Robotics Teams Compete in FIRST LEGO League Grand Championship

Five robotics teams from Shady Side Academy Middle and Junior School competed in the Western PA FIRST LEGO League (FLL) Grand Championship on Friday, Dec. 7, and Saturday, Dec. 8, at Sewickley Academy. Area teams that competed in at least one scrimmage this year were eligible to participate in the championship. A total of 50 teams competed in the Scholastic Division in four areas - game board, project, hardware/software and teamwork/core values.

In the FLL competition, students design, build and program their own robots to complete varied tasks on the game table. These can be as simple as launching a LEGO payload down a ramp or as complicated as removing a LEGO space station module. As part of the competition, teams are also required to complete a research project and presentation related to this year's theme, Into Orbit.

The Middle School had four teams compete. The Blue Team of seventh graders Jack Bransome, Andrew Hoe, Josh Kaufman, Joe Krokosky, Deven Nahata, Leo Rickard, Hari Viswanathan and Andrew Zeng placed fifth overall with a score of 112 on the game board, and also placed in the top 10 in the Programming competition. The Gold Team of eighth graders Elaine Gombos, Elizabeth Kamin, Cassidy Mineo and Smrithi Shyam and seventh grader Ahniya Anthony placed seventh overall with a score of 101 on the game board. The Green Team of sixth graders Jeffrey Brunner, Jasper Chapman, Mohamed Elsayed, Milan Golla, Shaurya Gulati, Harry Kelson, Sid Ramineni, John Rhee and Rishil Saxena placed 16th overall with a score of 83 on the game board and also received a second-place trophy in the Core Values competition. The Purple Team of sixth graders Annalise Alexander, Anna Apetri-Pandrea, Sophia Gombos, Ava Jankowski and Ava Terezis placed 28th overall with a score of 58 on the game board, and also placed in the top 10 in the Robot Strategy competition.

The Junior School team finished with a high score of 58 for the robot game. The team focused on improving each round through analyzing each run and noting areas for more focus, and used the time between rounds to perfect their code. The team included fifth graders Bo Huang, Regan Mulderig, Abigail Mullen, Sam Davidheiser, Samraj Delfyett and Mateo Maiz, fourth grader David Dylan, and third graders Oliver McCarroll, Julia Aguiar and Daniel Maiz.

The Middle School robotics teams are coached by science teacher Matt Brunner and Spanish teacher Andrea Cespedes, while the Junior School robotics team is coached by science teacher Jeff McCarroll.

The FIRST LEGO League (FLL) introduces younger students in grades 4-8 to real-world engineering challenges by building LEGO-based robots to complete tasks on a thematic playing surface. FLL teams, guided by their imaginations and adult coaches, discover exciting career possibilities and, through the process, learn to make positive contributions to society. To learn more, visit or

Congratulations to all five teams and their coaches!

View a photo slideshow of the event:

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