Griffin Sprog headed to FLL world championships

Asad Ahmed and Xavier Goff set the robot for its missions at the UK and Ireland Championships on Feburary 24 in Bristol, England. Though their robot challenge scores were lower than other teams, they did well in the other categories which earned them the runners up position (photo courtesy Mr. Goff).

This year’s middle school robotics program started in September when ASL teams were chosen. One of those teams was the Pengu1n, which consisted of Matteo Salloum, Asad Ahmed, Ishaan Sareen, Robi Arpaio and Anderson Wong. These five sixth graders went on to become the youngest ASL team to win the North London Regional competition held at ASL on December 2.

During the weeks leading up to December 2, the Pengu1n had no idea they were going to even come close to winning the North London Regional, with not much of their robot working consistently and only recently coming up with an idea for a research project. But somehow they managed to bring everything together in the last week before the competition.

December 2 was an exciting day for the Pengu1n and their high school mentor Maxwell Kay. Their first two robot runs put them in second place on the robot leaderboard and their project and other presentations had been successful as well. When a mission model known as the tripod wasn’t there during their third run, they had an issue. During the 2 minutes and 30 seconds of the robot match, much time was wasted looking for the tripod, causing them to only achieve 75 points. The head-referee decided the Pengu1n would score the tripod but not get a rematch. The team formally requested a rematch and many people agreed with them, but it was denied by the head-referee. In the end, the Pengu1n did not get a rematch but still had their high of 115 points to win.

During the closing ceremony, two ASL robotics teams received a trophy. The fifth grade Coding Llamas which included Xavier Goff, Michael Quintin, Om Agarwal, Sebastian Bozzo, Ziad Ben-Gacem, Benjamin Mills-Knutson, Markus Algard, and Blake Zilberman, won the research project, and the Pengu1n won the overall trophy. This allowed the Pengu1n to progress to compete in the 2018 UK and Ireland Championship.

A week later the Pengu1n members could be seen sitting in Mr. Chris Goff’s room as Mr. Goff and Mr. Muktar Ali spoke about the options they had. One of them was to use the honorary name of Griffin Sprog which they took without doubt. The second was to hold applications to add up to four  people to the team. After a serious talk between the Pengu1ns, they came to an agreement to accept applications which were done by the robotics teachers.

Eventually, sixth grader Edward O’Dwyer and fifth graders Quintin, Goff, and Agarwal were added to the team.

The UK and Ireland Championships took place on February 24 In Bristol, England. At this competition the Griffin Sprog won Runners Up allowing them to qualify for the World Championships in Detroit, Michigan. This was mainly because of their Research Project, Robot Design Executive Summary and Core Values. Their Robot hadn’t been at its best on that day over February Break. During that closing ceremony, much stress was shared amongst the Griffin Sprog. After teams won smaller trophies then bigger trophies, the team had lost all hope. It was a complete shock to the members of the Griffin Sprog to hear the announcer say: “The runners-up of this year’s UK and Ireland Championship, they’re going to the US, it’s team 26, the Griffin Sprog!”

Now the nine members of the Griffin Sprog are getting ready for the World Championships April 25-28 in Detroit, Michigan. They are the first all middle school robotics team to make it to the world championships from ASL. As the only fifth and sixth graders at the UK and Ireland championships, compared to the winners of the UK and Ireland Championships (who were all between 14-17 years old), they expect to be the youngest at the World Championships.

The Griffin Sprog’s research project was building off on an idea that used solar energy to convert dirty water to clean. It used evaporation and was known as a solar still or water cone. The Griffin Sprog learnt to use controlled test with middle school science teacher Ms. Jess Sepie, and spoke to a panel of Senior Policy officials to Wateraid and HSBC. They also held interviews and sent emails to obtain more knowledge.

About Asad Ahmed ('24)

Staff Writer 2017-2018

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