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Team Tiki Wins 1st Place in Teamwork

>”Team Tiki,” a FIRST LEGO League (FLL) Robotics Team from McLean, was awarded “1st Place in Teamwork” at the FIRST Lego League (FLL) World Festival in Atlanta, Ga. April 13-15. FIRST LEGO League is an international robotics program designed to ignite enthusiasm for discovery, science and technology in children ages 9 to 14. Every year FIRST LEGO League teams embark on a “Challenge” based on current, real-world issues. Guided by a team coach and assisted by mentors, the participants research and solve a real-world problem based on the Challenge theme, present their research and solutions and build an autonomous robot using engineering concepts.

The members of Team Tiki are Amelia, Leah and Gene Gonzalez, Heather Harper, Brian Reimer and Clint Johnson. Last fall, the team built and programmed a robot to complete nine obstacles in two and a half minutes at a Regional Tournament held at Eagle Ridge Middle School in Ashburn on Dec. 6, 2006. The team was given the highest award in Division 2, "The Champion’s Award," and was also awarded the "Robot Performance Award" for having the highest score on the competition table that day in Division 2. In addition, the team prepared a science project on nanotechnology for the competition.

The team went on to compete in the State Tournament on Dec. 3, 2006 in Blacksburg, and the World Festival in Atlanta marked the end of Team Tiki’s FIRST LEGO League season, which ran for almost one year.

The “Teamwork Award” is presented to the team that best demonstrates “extraordinary enthusiasm and spirit, exceptional partnership, the utmost respect to their own teammates and support and encouragement of fellow teams.” Judges looked for confidence, energy, enthusiasm, group problem-solving skills, understanding and respect for others, positive team interaction and group dynamics, demonstrated interest in science and technology and the ability of team members to fill each other’s roles when necessary.

“We are so proud of our team members,” said Janet Gonzalez, one of the Team Tiki coaches, and mother to three of its members. “They have worked diligently through their extended FLL season … and they gave it their all at the World Festival. The teams at the World Festival were extremely talented and strong competitors. We were amazed how well Team Tiki worked together under extreme pressure and a challenging competition schedule.”

In November 2006, Team Tiki held a fund-raiser for the National Rehabilitation Center at the Old Firehouse Teen Center in McLean. The FIRST LEGO League competition required the team to educate a group about their project prior to the regional tournament. Team Tiki opted to take the requirement one step further by turning the educational process into a fund-raiser. The team invited more than 80 friends to a two-hour "birthday" party where they accepted donations in lieu of gifts. A silent auction that included a trip for two to the fall 2007 Miami premiere of Dwayne Johnson's — aka "The Rock" — movie "The Game Plan" was also held.

Team Tiki was able to get everything donated for the evening fund-raiser — the Old Firehouse venue, DJ Jenny from Basement Media Productions, and the food and silent auction items from local vendors. The team raised $2,300, which was given by Team Tiki and the Rock Foundation, to the National Rehabilitation Center in Washington, D.C. The money was used for children whose parents cannot afford operations or prosthetic devices.