Central Jersey College Prep Hosts Regional Robotics Competition

Robotics teams from around the region gathered Nov. 17 at Central Jersey College Prep Charter School to earn a berth in the state championship round of the FIRST Lego League competition.

The international competition is sponsored by FIRST, a Manchester, N.H.-based organization dedicated to inspire and encourage young people’s participation in science, and the Lego Group, maker of the popular interlocking toy.

The 12 teams competing were comprised of students in grades 4 to 8. The robots used were created using Lego products, and were designed to perform a number of tasks.

Although the competition centers on robotics, that’s only one of its aspects, said Kevin Whitehead, CJCP’s robotics coach.

The students must also identify and solve a problem based on the challenge issued by the organization at the start of the season, Whitehead said. This year, the challenge is “Orbit,” so teams had to think of and solve a problem that could be encountered by someone orbiting the Earth.

Judges also look at team spirit, and how readily team members help each other and members of other teams, he said.

“That makes them a better person,” he said.

The robot game, he said, makes the students “aware of what is going on in the world, what kind of problems we have.”

During the day, two teams at a time squared off at a specially designed table. Their robots were used to complete a set of 14 missions, each of which carried a number of points.

The missions usually involved removing or adding something  to the space station depicted on the board, Whitehead said.

The competition was to yield five winners who would then go on to the state championships, he said.

Here are some scenes from the day:


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