Congratulations Robot Design Team

The CRES Conservation Rangers competed at the Virginia/DC State 2016 FIRST LEGO League (FLL) Animal Allies Tournament on December 3 and 4th at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. The group, comprised of third grader Sohil K.; fifth graders Lucas M. and Viraj G.; and sixth graders Arnav K., Fairfax County Public Schools and Summer STEAM Ambassador (’16) Conner T, and Nikhil C. were among the top 69 teams in Virginia and DC. This Tournament is the largest LEGO Robotics competition in the world.

The team achieved the second-place trophy for Robot Performance in their division, and were also awarded the third-place trophy for the overall Champions Award that recognizes a team that embodies the FLL experience. To receive this honor, the team must represent the Core Values of FLL (sportsmanship and teamwork) while achieving excellence and innovation in all aspects of the tournament in Robot Design and original Research Project.

Over the past 12 weeks, the team custom designed, built, and pre-programmed a LEGO EV3 robot to accomplish various “missions” on a 4’x8′ game field and score as many points as possible in 150 seconds. Their robot earned the second highest score among a field of 69 teams, and third overall when including the 39 additional middle school teams. In addition to spending hundreds of hours designing the robot and programming it, the group did extensive work over the past few months on the required topic: learning about how animals and humans interact and how to improve upon the relationship to benefit the animal, the humans, or both. As part of their research, the team toured the aviation simulation lab at MITRE in October, visited the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, toured the Fairfax County Animal Shelter, met with a dog trainer, and Skyped with one of 70 specialized animal behaviorists veterinarians in the world, received input from the Chief Digital Officer at The Franklin Institute, and conducted firsthand research via an original online survey. At the tournament, they presented their findings and solution for a virtual-reality based environment for shelter dogs proposal to judges, complete with a scale model of a prototype. More information can be found on the team’s web blog at and at