Both Skagway teams pose with their coaches and trophies. PHOTOS BY HEATHER RODIG


Local FIRST LEGO League teams Prickles and Lily Inc. came away from the Dec. 9 Juneau Robot Jamboree as winners, with each team scoring an award at the competition.

“I feel that we did put our best effort into this, it took us actually a really long time to get our project done, and I’m pretty happy with what we came up with,” said Prickles member Kenadie Cox.

Prickles repeated as winners of the Champions Award, an honor the team captured at 2016’s jamboree as well.

“It feels pretty good, we couldn’t have done it without Mindy and Andy [Miller] though,” Conner Lawrence said of Prickles’ coaches.

Last year, Lily Inc. wasn’t able to make the jamboree, so 2017 marked the first year the four-student team competed at Juneau. The team’s debut at the competition seemed to go well – Lily Inc. won the trophy for Top Robot Design.

“It’s an exciting event for the kids,” said Mary Tidlow, coach for Lily Inc.

Tidlow said teams are scored on robot design, team projects and the FIRST core values – “coopertition” and gracious professionalism. There are also secret judges that evaluate the teams throughout the day. At the end of the competition, the teams are given back a rubric grading them in those categories. Tidlow said Lily Inc.’s members were scored as “gracious professionals at the exemplary level.”

“And that showed throughout their entire competition, and especially in the robotics,” Tidlow said.

Lawrence said the other teams at the Juneau competition had “pretty cool” robot designs.

“Some of them were more unique than others,” Lawrence said. Cox and Callia Fielding said many of their competitors’ robots were tiny, where the Prickles robot is big, boxy and designed after an elephant.

“It’s always interesting to see how many different solutions there are to the same problem on the robots,” Andy Miller said.

In addition to the standard robot obstacle course that each team has to overcome, the goal for FLL teams this year was to identify a problem related to the human water cycle, and design a solution to it.

Prickles’ project is a “mountain fountain,” a device that could collect water in remote areas and filter it into drinkable H2O. Wynter Radey-Morgan said the team will be updating its prototype of the project – which looks like a giant flower with silver petals – before the team heads to its next competition.

“We’re going to probably make the flower petals not as sharp because we don’t want anyone losing an eye,” Radey-Morgan said.

Lily Inc.’s project focused around cleaning heavy metals from water. During manufacturing processes, often times heavy metals get washed into water. The four-student Lily Inc. is looking at ways to scrub that manufacturing water clean.

The grand champion from the Juneau jamboree and any other trophy-winning teams get to head to a Jan. 20 competition in Anchorage. Ava Myers of Team Prickles said her team needs to work on smiling during their skit and presentation of their project.

Tidlow said Lily Inc. is already working to identify where their weaknesses lie, and determining what needs to be done to improve in those areas.

“We’re putting together a game plan basically, or a road map as to what we need to do and how we would get there,” Tidlow said.