Robo Champs

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A sophisticated robot hand-built by three Boys Town Jerusalem ninth graders was awarded first prize for Mechanical Design in the Jerusalem Regional FLL-Israel Robotics Competition. The winning robot triumphed over 51 other contestants.

The international FLL (FIRST Lego League) contests challenge students to build, program and operate a robot. Like its fellow contestants, Boys Town Jerusalem’s winning robot consists of hundreds of Lego pieces precisely designed and assembled by its young creators for innovative, vigorous performance. Each robot is built to autonomously solve a set of missions in a series of nail-biting 2½ minute sessions on the FLL Tournament floor.

Yair Zabbit, 15, is the Boys Town Jerusalem team member who masterminded the prizewinning mechanical design, in collaboration with classmates Netanel Hanau and Yehudah Zeevi. “Our robot excelled thanks to the fast-acting arms and higher wheels we custom-built to enable it to carry out simultaneous missions,” Yair explained. The team has been hard at work for over three months to design and build the robot and to create a project aimed at solving a real-world problem related to this year’s theme of space travel. Yet from the start of the year, these ninth graders took upon an even greater mission: to serve as mentors for the 7th and 8th grade FLL team members now beginning their FLL contest endeavors.

Over the past weeks, the lights in the school’s Follender Robotics Laboratory have remained bright late into the night as the diligent Boys Town Jerusalem extracurricular robotics club members prepared for the FLL tournament. “This is my third tournament,” Yair notes. “I’m happy to share my experience and knowledge with the younger team. After all, teamwork is the most important part of what we do here and everywhere.”

Mentors Yair, Yehudah and Netanel took great pride in the younger BTJ team’s debut in the regional competition where they ranked among the top ten teams. “We’ve all worked hard, and we’ve worked together. The contest proved that this combination makes everything possible,” said Yehudah Zeevi.

For his part, Boys Town Jerusalem Principal Doron Taib pointed to the significant role that the FLL program plays for the school’s large number of disadvantaged students. “The enthusiasm, knowledge and confidence that they gain from the robotics activities have enormous value for their future and the future of Israel as a whole.”

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