LEGO Robotics team members stand around their trophy

Two teams from Martinsville City Public Schools brought home first place trophies this weekend after competing against more than 100 teams from Virginia and Washington, D.C. in the VA+DC FIRST LEGO League Challenge state championship at James Madison University.

The Tree Huggers, a Division 1 team from Patrick Henry Elementary, took first place in the state for their division in Core Values. Absolute Zero, a Division 2 team from Martinsville Middle School, won first place in their division for their Innovation Project.

Following a regional qualifying tournament in November, four teams from Martinsville—nearly 40 students in total—advanced to this weekend’s state championship: Absolute Zero, the Mindshifters, the Tree Huggers, and the Bot Squad. In total, 57 teams in Division 1 and 57 teams in Division 2 advanced to the state tournament.

FIRST LEGO League is a STEM-based competition consisting of four main components: the Robot Game, Robot Design, Innovation Project, and Core Values.

For the Robot Game, teams must design, build, and program a robot to accomplish as many missions as possible in a 2.5-minute time period. Teams prepare for Robot Design by planning a short presentation discussing their mission strategy for the robot game, their design for their robot, and how they programmed their robot. For the Innovation Project, teams must identify a problem based on the year’s competition theme and create a solution to that problem. Teams are also judged on how well they embrace the Core Values of FIRST LEGO League: discovery, innovation, impact, inclusion, teamwork, and fun.

This year’s challenge, Masterpiece, encourages teams to think about the role STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) plays in the arts.

"I am excited about the continued success of our robotics program," said Superintendent Dr. Zeb Talley. "MCPS students and staff continue to excel at a high level in this area. Our community will reap benefits from these accomplishments!" 

Absolute Zero from Martinsville Middle School