Incredibly enough, even a pandemic could not stop the Boys Town Jerusalem FLL (FIRST Lego League) robotics team from clinching a Second-Place trophy in the recent regional FLL Israel championship. The impressive prize was awarded for their innovative research project to solve a real-world problem, revolving around the 2021 FLL contest theme of Sports and Fitness.

“All of us have been on the BTJ Robotics team since seventh grade,” explained ninth-grader David Mouyal, “but none of us ever imagined what this year would bring.”

With the school shuttered by Covid for most of the year and Israel under continued lockdowns, bringing the team together to engineer, code and build their robot was a massive challenge. As for the competition’s second category to conceive and carry out a research project, the exasperated teammates tackled this assignment in an intensive two months from the resumption of classes till the contest. Their victory was especially sweet.

After familiarizing themselves with the broad topic of Sports and Fitness, the team focused on identifying a problem within the tournament’s guidelines and designing a solution. The ingenious Problem that emerged: What stops people from participating in sports, and what would attract them to take part?

After rigorous exploration, the teammates concluded that sharing like activities with others could boost participation in athletic pursuits. By creating the format for a computer application, they enabled a would-be athlete to simply indicate his/her likes, from music to sports, and then to connect with kindred spirits.

In the remote Zoom competition, the team’s well-prepared PowerPoint presentation garnered high acclaim from the judges, and an impressive 2nd Place trophy.

Without missing a beat, the newest winners then tackled their
next challenge: recruiting incoming 7th and 8th graders for the new 2021-22 BTJ Robotics team. “We’ll be their mentors!” promise David and his winning teammates.

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