I LEGO My Books for a Day!

This has nothing to do with books, but it has something to do with LEGOs (my second most favorite thing in the world). I am really excited about it and I thought that some of you may want to know about this great program!

I am a member of the Upper Perkiomen Robotic Team  – First Lego League Division. I know, you’re asking “The what now?” The First LEGO League (FLL) is a world-wide organization that gives students a chance to learn about “real-world engineering challenges by building LEGO-based robots to complete tasks on a thematic playing surface.” You can read more about it at their website by clicking HERE. Basically we got to build and program a robot that needs to complete certain tasks. The Upper Perkiomen Robotic Team (UPRT) is a volunteer group that helps promote “ the wonders of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.” UPRT wants to “enhance student participation in challenging age-appropriate STEM and robotics competitive programs as a means to fueling a desire for education while exposing students to 21st Century technologies and processes that can lead to dynamic and rewarding futures.” Please visit the UPRT website HERE.


So the UPRT participated in the 2011 Lego Robotics FLL Qualifying Tournament last weekend at Girard College in Philadelphia. It was huge! 12 other Robotic teams were there by the time we got there! The Mighty Narwhals (one of the teams) had the best team uniform – Narwhal hats *SWEET*! (see above). Our team motto is tachquiwi (pronounced “taacch-wee”) it means “together” in the Lenape language. The Lenape Indians were the original settlers of the Upper Perkiomen Valley of Pennsylvania and tachquiwi is what we try to do as a team, work together!

The theme of this year’s FLL challenge is called “Food Factor Challenge.”  It has to do with food safety and keeping our food supply safe. For the competition, you had to build a robot which could do certain things on the field (see photo). Like moving fish from the ocean to home base or tip dispensers full of “Germs,” and bring them back to base, bringing groceries to a table or collecting other food items without contaminating them.

We also had to make a project and a skit that had to do with making our food supply safer. We came up with the idea that we wanted to keep mice out of people’s boxed food. We researched “what are some foods mice hate” on the internet and found out that mice hate peppermint. We came up with a new packaging idea: 1 layer of cardboard, then you cover it with peppermint strips, and top it with the paper label (it’s really a cardboard label) and called the product “inboxMINT”. This way we are keeping the mice away from the food, it isn’t harmful to the environment and we don’t have to poison or kill the mice. We also had to put together a skit to “sell” our product –“inboxMINT”. In the skit, I was a REALLY important character (I was the mouse! “Squeak!” 🙂 ), but my only lines were: 3 ‘squeaks’ and 1 ‘yuck’.


  • Our Robot’s Name: The Red Baroness
  • Accessories: A big, red bucket that attached to the side, two (2) claws, a red bumper, and a small, gray bucket
  • Manipulator: A bucket/claw carrier
  • Number of Wheels: Three (3) – two (2) small, one (1) large
  • How Many Programs We Made For The Baroness: Four (4) [And they all worked!]
  • Interesting fact – she was originally called “The Red Baron” but one of our team members said “girl robots always work better” so he became a she 😉

The judges at the event were scientists, engineers, teachers, computer experts and other really smart people. For the judging they looked at our robot, tested our teamwork, and looked at our project and skit. We also had to compete on the game board for points. Guess what?!?! Our team won the trophy for Best Robot Design! We also “leveled-up” and get to go to the Championship Round next month! Wahooo!!!

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16 replies

  1. OK. I think I missed something. Does The Red Baroness make the InboxMINT? Or what does she have to do with your product?

    This is totally cool. A friend of mine’s kids did this a couple years ago and they invented the Bus Locator 3000 so you never miss the school bus. Check it out, I think you’ll like it!

    • Sorry I didn’t make that clear! 🙁 inboxMINT and the Red Baroness are 2 different things! The robot has to do challenges on a game board (you can see it in the pictures in my post) and we had to make a seperate project and presentation about keeping your food safe. We chose to keep those pesky mice out of your food, and we decided inboxMINT would do the job! The YouTube video was AWESOME! I wish I knew how to make one like that 🙂

      • It’s time-consuming but fun! My kids have made a number of them – one involving pirates and another involving a castle and a war of some sort, and my daughter did a stop action lego film of Hamlet for a senior year English project 🙂 You haven’t experienced Hamlet until you’ve seen it in stop action lego! All you need is a video camera and a lot of patience!

  2. Very cool! Sounds like loads of fun and a great experience. My boy love LEGOs but at 4 years old, he contracts all the building out to me. Free labor!

    • Congratulations Erik! I am very familar with this program. When I worked for the Air Force, we sponsored a lot of the competitions locally at the base because we liked to encourage kids to pursue engineering and science careers. And, I know a lot of kids who just love this competition. I hope you had a great time — the team work sounds wonderful Sounds like you had a great team. You are talented in many ways! Loved her name, The Red Baroness!

    • Thanks! Well the junior FLL starts at age 6 so your son doesn’t have to wait too long!

  3. Love your title and I loved lego too when I was young! Congratulations… Getting through to the Championship Round is awesome. Do you have to do extra stuff for that?

    • Hi! Thank you for the comment! We think the Red Baroness is pretty good, although we can work on trying to position the robot well when it’s on the game board. I think we should try to improve our presentation a little. Mostly we will try to make little improvements but we compete with the same robot and project.

  4. That is so cool, congratulations Erik! It is great that you got to combine something fun with something so intelligent and useful. And i had heard of tachquiwi but didn’t know it meant together. Very informative post 🙂

  5. This sounds like so much fun!! Love the pics (and I love the narwhale hats!).

    Somehow I didn’t get these your two posts in my inbox. I’ve dropped off other sites mysteriously too. I’ll try to resubscribe.

  6. This is so awesome! I just learned about this, too! My library is getting ready to start a LEGO club. Nothing near the complexity of these competitions, but it should be great fun!


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