Bacteria Ninjas compete at robotics tournament

After months of intense preparation for this season’s FLL robotics competition challenge dubbed “Food Factor,” the Bacteria Ninjas from Sweetwater Middle School took their plastic blocks and brains to the table to compete at the fourth annual North Texas FIRST LEGO® League (FLL) Regional Championship Robotics Tournament on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2012. Coached by Shana Hrbacek, Bacteria Ninja members were Anna Espinoza, Christa Martin, Abby Garcia, Bella Pena and Abby Lynch. The Bacteria Ninjas were sponsored by Ludlum Measurements in Sweetwater.Winning the first place Champion’s Award was Team XS NRG, who will be invited to the World Festival in St. Louis, MO, April 25-28. This is the first year North Texas has been selected to attend the World Festival. The hIPer G33ks received the second place Champion’s Award and will be invited to the FIRST® LEGO® League North American Open at LEGOLAND® California May 18-20. Both Champion’s Award teams were recognized for fully embracing the FLL Core Values while achieving excellence and innovation in the robot game and project.Produced by the Museum of Nature & Science and presented by Lockheed Martin, the FLL competition placed 50 qualifying teams of young “engineers-in-training” against each other on a robotic obstacle course where the groups match wits with a coordinating research presentation. After spending months studying, dissecting and analyzing food safety, the teams built and programmed an autonomous robot using LEGO® MINDSTORMS technology to score points in 2.5-minute “mission” matches on a food safety-themed playing field. With a mission to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders, FLL engages kids through exciting, mentor-based programs that build math, science and technology skills. Aimed at an international audience of students, ages 9 through 14, the competition teaches real-world problem solving through engineering design and teamwork. In 2008, the Museum of Nature & Science became the affiliate and operational partner for the North Texas FLL region. The Museum coordinates and oversees all North Texas FLL events, the largest of which is the Regional Championship Tournament typically held in January. FLL continues to grow in North Texas, from 25 teams in 2008 to 155 teams registered for the 2011 season.Sponsors, supporters and exhibitorsProduced by the Museum of Nature & Science and hosted by The Hockaday School, the North Texas FLL Championship Robotics Tournament was presented by Lockheed Martin. Supporting sponsors were ExxonMobil, Raytheon, Rockwell Collins and Time Warner Cable’s Connect a Million Minds initiative. Qualifier hosts are University of Texas Arlington (College of Engineering); UT Dallas (Science and Engineering Education Center); Parish Episcopal School; Billy Ryan High School; and St. Philips School and Community Center. FLL exhibitors included SMU Innovation Gymnasium, Dallas Personal Robotics Group and Dallas Makerspace.