Middle School Robotics Team Advances to FIRST Lego League NYC Semi-Finals

A Spence Middle School Robotics team, the Spence Sky Sabers, has advanced to the semifinals of the FIRST LEGO League Challenge, achieving the team’s best performance to date, with an impressive fourth-place finish out of 19 teams. The Spence Sky Sabers are now gearing up to compete in the semifinal round next month. 
 
This is the third year that the team has participated in the FIRST LEGO League Challenge. “We have a veteran team, including one eighth grader who has been on the team since sixth grade,” shared robotics coach and computer science teacher Jeremy Joven, who coached the team alongside math teacher Ashley Augustin. “The students have taken what they’ve learned in past years to this competition.” 
 
This year’s competition, which focused on the pressing issues facing cities and towns, challenged students to, “create new, innovative solutions to help shape an optimal future, using our environment and modern-day tools and technology to make it last” and “plan…strong, sustainable, and inclusive” cities. 
 
As part of the Robot Challenge portion of the competition, the students had to use the Lego Mindstorms coding language to create a LEGO robot capable of solving a series of tasks on a game board modeled after a city. “The students had two and a half minutes to complete as many challenges on the game board, such as moving objects, pushing objects, and moving the robot to certain locations,” Joven said. “The students get to choose which tasks they want to complete, and they get points based on how well they do certain tasks.”
 
The competition also had an Innovation Project, in which the students had to identify a problem facing cities, devise a solution and share a presentation on their proposal. Inspired by composting efforts at Spence, “The students found the problem of composting interesting,” said Joven. They worked together to strategize how to get more people to throw out their trash in the correct bins. “Their solution was to create better signage so it’s visible to people as they’re throwing out their trash,” Joven shared. 
 
Joven is particularly proud of the success of the Spence robotic teams, a group of 19 students in Grades 5-8, including the Strawberry Traffic Jam team who competed for the first time this year in the LEGO League. 
 
For now, the Sky Sabers will be focusing on the next round of the competition, which will involve identifying their robot’s challenges and areas for improvement. According to Jovan, their job is to refine their robot’s code and program it to complete a series of tasks in preparation for the “much tougher playing field” of the semifinals. 
 
Good luck to the Sky Sabers in their next round of the competition, and congratulations to the entire Middle School Robotics team, represented by the following students:
 
Charlotte S. ’24
Iris S. ’25
Elle D. ’26
Zahava K. ’26
Dominique W. ’26
Harriet M. ’27
Riya M. ’27
Lila H. ’27
Naomi J. ’27
NiLani J. ’25
Dinah E. ’26
Clementine G. ’26
Ariya M. ’27
Hana Kim T. ’27
Skylar M. ’25
Samara K. ’26
Jonelle L. ’27
Zola B. ’27
Anahera S. ’27 
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