A local FIRST LEGO League (FLL) robotics team—the Phantom of the LEGOs—recently received an invitation to the FLL North American Open Championship May 18-20 at LEGOLAND-California.
Members of the Phantom of the LEGOs Robotics team include: Catherine Colletti and Jaime Pack, who attend ; Michael Colletti who attends in Wildwood; and Ian Rosebrough and Matt VanVooren, who attend Holy Infant School. The team is coached by Ron and Teresa Colletti, who are residents.
Two teams representing the Eastern Missouri region will go to the May competition; the other team is the Neon Electrons, a team from Reed Elementary School.
The Phantom of the LEGOs team earned the invite to the North American Open Championship by competing in a St Louis Regional tournament where they received the Robot Performance award, which is highest score on the robot challenge, and the Champions award. The Champions award is the top award of the tournament, and is given to the team that is the overall best in all three areas of the competition (project, core values and robot challenge).
This year's Phantom of the LEGOs robot is about 12 inches long-by-5 inches wide and 6 inches high. It is made from the LEGO Mindstorm kit.
Next the team competed in the Eastern Missouri State Championship where they won the Robot Performance award and the Best Robot Mechanical Design award. Most recently the Phantom of the LEGOs competed at the “Robots in the Rotunda Statewide FLL Scramble” in Jefferson City on Feb. 16. The team received second place for robot performance in the competition.
FIRST LEGO League is part of the FIRST Robotics group, which organizes robotics competitions to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. FLL tournament teams are judged in four areas: robot design and programming, robot game performance, research project presentation, and teamwork (core values).
Ron Colletti said FIRST LEGO League teams are scored in four areas: a research solution to a problem related to the yearly topic—this year food safety; robot design; the FLL core values which includes things like teamwork, community involvement and gracious professionalism; and the actual running of the robot to complete missions (highest score of 3 rounds).
The phone application is one of the research solutions to a food safety issue. Colletti said team members believe the restaurant grading system is too lenient to restaurants, and that the public is not aware of the grading system.
He said team members learned much about food safety, from reading contamination-related stories in the news and from researching food processing—including visits to Monsanto, Solea, restaurants and grocery stores, and a local farm. They also spoke with a restaurant inspector from the St. Louis County Department of Health.
"After all of these visits, the team discussed what they had learned. They then talked about what problems they thought existed in this area of food safety. The restaurant grading system was what they chose to work on in more detail," said Colletti.
"They learned about the FDA Food Code and the St. Louis County Food Code, as well as research done by academia on restaurant inspection systems across the country. When they met with the restaurant inspector, they asked him what he liked and what he thought could be improved. That was the basis for the team’s choice."
Editor's Note: Thanks to Ron Colletti, Phantom of the LEGOs team coach and proud father, for background information.