Spicewood FLL team wins Research Award at World Championship

The Immortals FIRST LEGO League (FLL) team from Spicewood Elementary School, an International Baccalaureate World School, won the first place research award at the organization’s World Championship competition in April.

The FLL World Championship, hosted in Houston, gathered 32,000 teams from 88 countries to compete in the event. The Immortals represented Central Texas at the World Championship.

The first place research award was earned for The Immortal’s awareness campaign to save the vanishing species of the “Golden-Cheeked Warbler,” a local endangered bird. The team consists of Spicewood fifth-grade students Siyona Agnihotri, Bela Jere, Aanchal Save and Eesha Siram and Tulsi Joglekar, an out-of-District student. The team won local qualifiers and the regional Championship Award to reach the World Championship.

“It feels awesome to win,” Bela said. “We presented our research by doing a live news telecast and we acted as anchors, experts and did live interviews. I think the reason we won was because children could actually do what we suggested for ways to help the endangered animal. We are definitely planning on competing again next year.”

The team completed a multitude of research on the connection between humans and animals, including consulting pet-therapy experts to learn about the therapeutic programs based on the powerful bond between dogs and humans, met with a biomimicry expert to learn about the science that empowers people to create nature-inspired solutions to complex human challenges and worked with a wildlife biologist from the Travis Audubon Society while researching and working on their project about the Golden-Cheeked Warbler and its habitat. The team also ran an awareness campaign and built and installed several nests mimicking the bird’s habitat in the Baker Sanctuary, St. Edward’s Park and the Balcones Canyon Preserve with the hope of helping the species to recover.

“FLL and this research project are true testaments to the IB spirit of inquiry-based learning with a global mindset,” Spicewood Principal Jiae Kim said. “We are so proud of the Immortal team and the girls’ drive to research ways to better our community and environment.”

FLL introduces 9 to 14 year-old students to real-world engineering challenges by building Lego-based robots to complete tasks on a thematic playing surface, according to the organization. This year’s theme for FLL was the “ANIMAL ALLIES” Challenge, which tasked teams to research and identify a problem where humans and animals interact, then design a solution for the problem. Teams also design a robot to complete 15 different tasks outlined by FLL.