COURTESY OF JEROME BARRIDO

A team comprised mostly of Brook Park and S.E. Gross students competed in an Illinois F.I.R.S.T. (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Lego League robotics competition qualifier at the Miles Davis Magnet Academy, 6740 S. Paulina in Chicago, on Saturday, Dec. 13. 

Although the team named “Chuck Norris” (‘because they break down barriers’), just missed qualifying for the state tournament by one place, the team won the judges’ Rookie Team Award for best overall rookie team in the competition. 

Team Chuck Norris had to prepare a presentation on how they could help people improve the way they learn a certain topic matter. The team created an improved method of learning Spanish by combining the proper Spanish spelling of a word and integrating that Spanish spelling into a picture definition of the word while also including a phonetic pronunciation for English speakers. The kids verified their hypothesis that Spanetics improved the way Spanish words are learned and and pronounced by conducting a validation study on some of their classmates. 

In addition to this project presentation, Team Chuck Norris was scored on their robot design which they constructed out of Lego Mindstorm pieces. Finally, judges’ interviews on how they promoted F.I.R.S.T. Lego Leagues’ Core Values of teamwork, spirit, and gracious professionalism and four robot “competitions” against community or school-sponsored teams throughout the day led to the Rookie Award for Team Chuck Norris. First Lego League Founder Dean Kamen came up with the idea for the Lego robotics competition in order to inspire young people to become science and technology leaders.