Just before the Thanksgiving Holiday, a fifth grade Rancho Santa Fe Eagles Robotics Team called the Maze Runners, from R. Roger Rowe School, earned a first-place ribbon at the Escondido Robotics Qualifier. This victory allowed the Maze Runners to advance to the First Lego League, or FLL, Southern California Championship in LEGOLAND at Carlsbad on December 6th.
The theme of this year’s FLL Challenge was “World Class Learning,” and the challenge consisted of three parts.
For part one, each team had to pick a topic they were interested in and find ways to improve learning of this topic. Secondly, each team had to build a robot and program it to complete tasks that benefit learning of their particular topic.
The final part of the challenge was perhaps the most important. For part three of the FLL challenge, teams had to demonstrate values such as teamwork, cooperation, and sportsmanship.
For their topic of interest, RSF’s Maze Runners chose effectively learning foreign languages. To understand the process of learning foreign languages, the team researched foreign language education and interviewed adults who worked in this field.
Through their research, the Maze Runners discovered that learning foreign languages in an enjoyable, low stress environment – something very close to language immersion – was beneficial to learning these languages.
The team received first place in both the Core Values and Robot Design departments, and third place in the Robotics Challenge.
Just recently, the results from the December 6th FLL Southern California Championship that the Maze Runners qualified for were released. As it turns out, the Maze Runners continued their success streak in LEGOLAND, winning second place overall in core values.
The cherry on top of what seemed like an already incredible weekend, however, was that the team was also the only one of 56 teams to receive the “Judges Inspiration Award.” Science teacher John Galipault, who coached the team along with Tom Powell, as well as the friends and family of the team members, were thrilled and surprised to hear the news.
The Maze Runners team is made up of seven fifth graders by the names of Nora Gavreau, Logan Johnson, Jake Malter, Malcolm McDonough, Dylan Powell, Brandon Powell, and JT Young.
While all of these victories over the past month obviously speak to the academic and intellectual capabilities of the Maze Runners, what is more evident and important here seems to be the team’s sense of unity, cooperation and hard work.
Given that the team received the “Judges Inspiration Award,” and second place overall for core values; as well as a first place award for Core Values in the qualifier for this competition last month at Escondido; it seems that values are a huge part of their success.
At such a young age, the Maze Runners seem to be accomplishing what many adults today still struggle to do, which is work together and achieve success a team. The fact that they were selected out of 56 teams for the “Judges Inspiration Award,” speaks to the strong values and sense of community that Rancho Santa Fe and its school district stand for.
So congrats to the community of Rancho Santa Fe, the R. Roger Rowe School, and of course, most importantly, to the Maze Runners themselves!