SCIENCE + TECHNOLOGY

Utah team wins award at FIRST LEGO League robot competition in Texas

Apr 26, 2024, 2:23 PM | Updated: Apr 29, 2024, 12:32 pm

electro sloths team display at first lego league competition...

For the competition, the team had to create a robot using LEGO blocks. (Sriram Chaganti)

(Sriram Chaganti)

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to better reflect the event. 

SALT LAKE CITY — A team of LEGO robot-building students, the Electro Sloths, brought home an award from the FIRST LEGO League Challenge in Texas this month.

Ten kids between the fifth and eighth grades make up Utah’s Electro Sloths.

Sriram Chaganti’s son is part of the team. He said anyone with an interest in STEM can form a team, whether that’s within a middle school or high school or from homeschooling parents putting groups together.

“We have one of our friends who [has been ] a coach the last ten years for the robotics competition. He formed a team and my son was part of it,” Chaganti said.

From April 17-20, the Electro Sloths were in Houston, Texas for the FIRST LEGO League Challenge.

Robotics nonprofit, For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, or FIRST, sponsored the challenge. 

Related: Coca-Cola ad made by BYU students wins film competition, will screen at theaters

For the competition, each team had to create a robot using LEGO blocks. Chaganti said teams were given a series of tasks the robot had to perform.

This year, MASTERPIECE Robot Game points are scored for activating the technology that will enhance an audience’s experience of a creative production. The experts involved in designing the shows and the audience members need to be delivered to various venues.

“The robot has to go and turn the wheels which turn on the music player and carry LEGO people. All these are LEGO pieces. [The robot] carries Lego pieces from one place to the other,” Chaganti said. “Robo has to trigger the 2D cinema screen to become a 3D experience, change the scenery to a different configuration, release the camera down the track to shoot the movie scene, trigger the immersive experience for the viewer in the model, rotate the statue to reveal an augmented reality experience, set up the music concert by switching on the lights and sound and many more …”

The journey to the FIRST LEGO League Challenge

According to Chaganti, preparation for the competition began just before Thanksgiving.

“It goes all the way to April when they start building the robot, the parts for it, and program the robot.”

The team first competed in regional awards and moved on to the state championships. This year, the Electro Sloths beat out 36 other teams during the Utah state championship to earn the right to be the only team in their division to represent Utah in Texas.

In Texas, 152 teams from around the world competed in the same division as the Electro Sloths. In the end, the Sloths won the Breakthrough award.

Chaganti said the competition isn’t just about building the robots, but also about teamwork and adopting the core values of the competition.

Chaganti said the kids couldn’t have done it without their coach, Krishna Kanth, who they call KK.

“I think he’s an incredible mentor and leader for the team, ” Chaganti said. “He not only provided the technical expertise, but also emphasized the importance of the teamwork, the perseverance, and sportsmanship and also living the core values of the FIRST Championship.”

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Utah team wins award at FIRST LEGO League robot competition in Texas