Punahou, Iolani top LEGO robotics competition

The FIRST LEGO League 2009 season drew to a close today with an intense competition for the 2009 “Smart Move” Challenge Hawai‘i State Championship. At the Neil S. Blaisdell Arena, 48 teams of students demonstrated their problem-solving skills, creative thinking, teamwork, competitive play, sportsmanship and sense of community.

FIRST stands for “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.” This year’s competition called for teams of 9 to 14 year-old students to research and present their own creative solutions to one of today’s most relevant topics: gaining efficiency in transportation systems.

The Champions Award was presented to Punahou School’s team, Punabots Blue. ‘Iolani School’s Roboraiders Zoom team was named runner-up.

As the state champion, Punahou School will represent Hawai‘i at the FIRST LEGO League World Festival, to be held in conjunction with the FIRST Championship, April 15-17, 2010 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia.

Other award winning schools include:

  • King Kamuali‘i – Judges Award
  • Waimea Canyon Middle – Rising Star Award
  • ‘Aina Haina Elementary – Team Spirit Award
  • Pauoa Elementary – Core Values Award
  • Highlands Intermediate – Gracious Professionalism Award
  • Kaunakakai Elementary – Creative Presentation, first place
  • Emmanuel Lutheran School – Creative Presentation Award, second place
  • ‘Iolani School – Innovative Solution Award, first place; Research Quality Award, second place
  • Kapolei Elementary – Innovative Solution Award, second place
  • Holomua Elementary – Research Quality Award, first place
  • Punahou School (Team Firewall) – Robot Design Award, first place
  • Hawai‘i Baptist Academy – Robot Design Award, second place
  • Mid Pacific Institute – Team Work Award, first place
  • Honolulu Christian Homeschoolers – Team Work Award, second place
  • Punahou School (Team Buff n Blue 100) – Robot Performance Award, first place
  • Punahou School (Team Firewall) – Robot Performance Award, second place

Student teams programmed their robots to complete “missions,” including how to plan efficient routes and sequences, climb steep ramps, respond to changing conditions, travel along narrow bridges with no guard rails, and endure successful crash tests. Through this research and competitive play, students are exploring the growing questions around how to make transportation more efficient.

The FLL competition is judged in four areas: project presentation; robot performance; technical design and programming of the robot; and teamwork. The highest honor will go to the team that best exemplifies the spirit and values of the program.

In addition to the Championship competition, nearly 200 Junior FIRST LEGO League participants displayed their LEGO models and research projects. Junior FIRST LEGO League is geared toward 6 to 9 year-olds, introducing them to the wonders of science and technology through traditional, open-ended LEGO building with an age-appropriate challenge based on the FIRST LEGO League theme. Hawai‘i currently fields 45 Junior FLL teams.

Participation in the FIRST LEGO League and Junior FIRST LEGO League programs in Hawai‘i has skyrocketed from six to a record 172 teams, in the six years of the programs operation in Hawai‘i.

This weekend’s FLL Hawai‘i State Championship Tournament was sponsored by Hawai‘i Robotics Organizing Committee (ROC), Women in Technology, Hawaiian Electric Company, TESORO Corporation, City & County of Honolulu – HTA – CPEP, UH Manoa College of Engineering, Honolulu Community College – Construction Academy, Department of Education and isisHawaii.

FIRST LEGO League is one of six major programs in which Hawai‘i students can participate. The six programs which fall under the umbrella of the Robotics Organizing Committee (ROC) include FIRST LEGO League, FIRST Robotics, Botball, VEX Robotics, Underwater Remote Operating Vehicle (ROV), and Micro Robotics.

Recognizing the importance of promoting robotics at an early age and sustaining students’ interest in STEM education throughout their schooling, the six robotics programs which previously operated autonomously joined together to form the Hawai‘i Robotics Organizing Committee (ROC) (www.robotics.hawaii.gov). This is the first time all six of the robotics programs have coordinated their efforts to promote robotics education in elementary, middle and high schools statewide.

To learn more about student robotics in Hawai‘i as well as to view highlights and photos of the Hawai‘i FLL State Championship, visit www.hawaiiroc.org.

The following schools and youth organizations will participated in the “Smart Move” Challenge this weekend:


  • Aina Haina Elementary School
  • Hawai‘i Baptist Academy
  • Highlands Intermediate School
  • Holomua Elementary School
  • Honolulu Christian Home Schoolers
  • ‘Iolani School
  • Kāne‘ohe Elementary School
  • Kapolei Elementary School
  • Kapolei Middle School
  • Lehua Elementary School
  • Ma‘ema‘e Elementary School
  • Makalapa Elementary School
  • Mid Pacific Institute
  • Mililani Mauka Elementary School
  • Moanalua Elementary
  • Noelani Elementary School
  • Pearl City Elementary School
  • Pearl Ridge Elementary School
  • Punahou School
  • Sacred Hearts Academy
  • Salt Lake Elementary School


  • 4-H Maui
  • Emmanuel Lutheran School
  • ‘Īao School
  • Queen Ka‘ahumanu Elementary School
  • Seabury Hall
  • St. Josephs School
  • Moloka‘i
  • Kaunakakai Elementary School


  • Lāna‘i Elementary School

Big Island

  • Keaukaha Robotics Program
  • Myron B. Thompson Academy, PCS
  • Pauoa Elementary
  • Waiākea Elementary
  • Waiakeawaena Elementary
  • West Hawai‘i Explorations Academy, PCS


  • King Kaumuali‘i Elementary School
  • Kōloa Elementary School
  • Waimea Canyon Middle School


Accomplished inventor Dean Kamen founded FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. Based in Manchester, N.H., FIRST designs accessible, innovative programs to build self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills while motivating young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology, and engineering. With the support of many of the world’s most well-known companies, the not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST Robotics Competition and FIRST Tech Challenge for high-school students, FIRST LEGO League for children 9-14 years old, and Junior FIRST LEGO League for 6 to 9 year-olds.

FLL is an international program for 9 to 14 year-old children (10 to 16 outside the U.S. and Canada) created in a partnership between FIRST and The LEGO Group in 1998 based on their common belief that fun and learning go hand-in-hand, and that an inspired mind can accomplish anything. Each September, FIRST LEGO League announces the annual challenge to teams, engaging them in authentic scientific research and hands-on robotics design. Using LEGO MINDSTORMS technologies and LEGO play materials, children work alongside adult mentors to design, build, and program robots to complete missions based on real-world challenges. After eight intense weeks, the competition season culminates at high-energy, sports-like tournaments.


LEGO Systems Inc. (LSI) is the Americas (North America and Latin America) division of The LEGO Group, a privately-held firm based in Billund, Denmark. The LEGO Group is committed to the development of children’s creative and imaginative abilities through high-quality, creatively educational play materials, and its employees are guided by the motto adopted in the 1930s by founder Ole Kirk Christiansen: “Only the best is good enough.”

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