Rancho Pico Junior High School placed second in two categories at its very first tournament of the First Lego League at Valencia High School through the leadership of West Ranch High School senior Adhitya Ram.
Ram began his robotics journey in the fourth grade at Pico Canyon Elementary School. He began to learn the basics of robotics and coding, honing in these skills through Lego robots.
“It became a passion of mine,” said Ram. “I truly loved it and I learned a lot from there and I continued to build those skills.”
Ram, as he said, continued his journey and joined the robotics club in West Ranch High School.
One day Catherine Nicholas, Rancho Pico Junior High principal, expressed her interest in developing a robotics program in the school. Nicholas said that she wanted to offer more opportunities for after-school education enrichment programs. Ram decided he wanted to give the students the opportunity to explore robotics, and possibly fall in love with it, the way he did.
“It all just sort of came together,” said Ram.
Once a week, Ram would visit the robotics club and educate them on the field, but they continued to meet every weekday in the mornings.
The eight members learned how to use Lego Education Spike Prime, a beginner-friendly coding application, basic block coding, block programming, building attachment pieces for the robot and engineering.
“I’m really trying to hone their engineering and programming skills with fun and interactive lessons with the robot,” said Ram.
Building a robot is not something done perfectly on the first try. Nor was it done just by Ram. The club worked together over the course of many weeks to build a robot, something that taught a fair share of problem-solving and teamwork sills.
“Lego League is not just about teaching kids about STEM, it teaches them about life,” said Ram.
Week after week, the club worked toward its goal of having a submittable robot and innovation project to bring to the Nov. 12 First Lego League competition – their first time at that and any competition.
The First Lego League consists of four categories of judgment: robot performance, demonstration of their core values (discovery, innovation, impact, inclusion, teamwork and fun), robot design and the innovation project.
Every year the First Lego League innovation project is themed around a “problem.” This year’s was “renewable energy sources.”
Rancho Pico’s robot went onto the First Lego League game board and spent the two-and-a-half-minute time limit completing multiple missions. They were able to do this process three times, with their best number of points (missions completed) being taken out of the three for the final score for the robot performance category.
Their innovation project was homemade solar panels, made out of oxide-coated zinc, on a neighborhood diorama.
After getting the scores for their robot performance, a panel of judges evaluated the rest of the categories for placement.
Rancho Pico’s robotics club placed second in two categories – robot performance and overall grand champions.
“I can’t be more proud and more grateful for all the experiences that they’ve been able to offer our students here at Rancho Pico,” said Nicholas.
Ram hopes that the club members will continue their newfound passion for robotics in high school and be able to join West Ranch High School’s robotics club, leveling up from Lego robots.
Rancho Pico’s team consists of the following: head coach Adhitya Ram, assistant coach William Kei, Adhvika Ram, Skylar Gibson, Isha Chavan, Niya Bidin, Reid Llewelyn, Evan Friedman, Blake Arndt and Jayden Hwang.