Students Compete in the First Lego League World Championship

Students Compete in the First Lego League World Championship

The Robo Rangers pose for a photo at the First Lego League Robotics Challenge

L to R (Top Row): Rishika, Natasha, Isabella, Amisha, Joshua, and Bhuvan.

L to R (Bottom Row): Cristina, Girish, Revanth, and Shishir.

“Science is more than a school subject, or the periodic table, or the properties of waves. It is an approach to the world, a critical way to understand and explore and engage with the world, and then have the capacity to change that world.” -former U.S. President Barack Obama

The education of science, technology engineering, also referred to as STEM, has been sweeping the nation and since gained popularity among young students. With a rise in the demand of STEM-related careers, education programs that have a focus in STEM have become vital for our future. These programs not only inspire our future scientists or engineers, they challenge their critical thinking skills and push them towards exploring the unknown.

For a group of students in Ohio, their natural sense of curiosity and desire to find solutions to make a difference in the world lead them to an award-winning idea.

Robo Rangers team members in 2016

It all started back in 2016, when a group of five students from Kumon of West Chester (Ohio) wanted to put their skills to the test and accept a challenge presented to them by their Instructor, Lisa Williamson, along with other Kumon parents. They came together and recruited five younger students from the center to form the Robo Rangers, a Lego Robotics Team. The Robo Rangers went on to compete in the FIRST Lego League Robotics Challenge (FLL). The FLL seeks bright young students to research a real-world problem, such as food safety or recycling, and then develop a solution to the problem. The solutions developed by teams include basic STEM applications, critical thinking, presentation skills, and creativity.

Robo Rangers team members sit at a table with trophiesIn their first year, the Robo Rangers walked away with a Judges Award at the Regional Tournament. The Judges Award is given in recognition to a team that may showcases unique efforts, performance, or even a story that sets them apart from the competition. The team did not stop there. In 2017, the Robo Rangers won their Regional Tournament Championship, landing them in a spot to compete at the World Championship Tournament in Detroit, MI.

The stakes were high for the Robo Rangers at the World Championship Tournament, competing against 110 award-winning teams from around the world. The team came together to develop a solution to provide those in third-world countries with clean drinking water. Their solution dubbed the name “MorinGo,” a transportable barrel that uses moringa seeds (a drought resistant plant) to naturally filter water.

Robo Rangers celebrate a win

The ground moringa seeds coagulate the dirt and bacteria from the water and settle to the bottom of the barrel. This then leaves potable water on top of the barrel. The transportable barrel is useful in third-world countries where people must walk for miles just to get to a water source. The Robo Rangers and their proud parents were awarded the Research Award at the World Championship Tournament. They were recognized with this award due their extensive research efforts and deep understanding of the problem that they identified.

Fueled by their win, the Robo Rangers wanted more and went back to the drawing board to discover another problem to solve in 2019. After extensive research, the students discovered that astronauts were experiencing a decline in their eyesight due to microgravity. After an extended trip in space, astronauts Scott Kelly and Michael Barret were faced with this issue – leaving them almost blind. With this danger in mind, NASA has grown concerned about how this could potentially impact future space exploration for astronauts.

Sketch of the Robo Rangers' invention

The Robo Rangers created “Robo Vision 20/20” in hopes to eradicate this health risk for astronauts. “Robo Vision 20/20” adds a pin hole visor to the astronaut’s helmet. The design features a replica of a dragonfly’s eyes to protect the eyes from exposure to microgravity. A dragonfly’s field of vision is 360-degrees and are known to have exceptional tracking ability. By replicating a dragonfly’s eye in this helmet, not only enhances an astronaut’s field of vision, but also provides a layer of protection with the retinal implant.
Second sketch of the Robo Rangers' invention

The judges were again impressed by the research and the final product the team developed. The Robo Rangers were one of three finalists in Ohio to advance to the World Championship, taking place in Detroit this April. It is rare for a FLL Team to qualify for the World Championship in back-to-back years. Kumon wishes Bhuvan, Ananynaa, Joshua and Revanth the best of luck in the competition!

“The Kumon Method was the foundation for the team’s success. The students were able to excel in their academics along with extracurricular activities,” said Lisa Williamson, Kumon Instructor of West Chester. The parents that coached the Robo Rangers inspired additional families from the Center to form six more robotic teams. The Robo Rangers were brought together by their common bond of learning through the Kumon Method.”