The FIRST Lego League teams from Penn's Grove and Elk Ridge schools both earned third place trophies at the FIRST State Regional Qualifier held Jan. 5 at Charles F. Patton Middle School in Kennett Square. The event featured more than 30 robotics teams from schools and organizations in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey.Both teams qualified for the FIRST State Tournament to be held Saturday, Jan. 19 at the University of Delaware's Bob Carpenter Center, the championship event for FIRST Lego League teams from the four-state area. Teams advance based on their scores in the three judging areas (technical, research project and teamwork) and their highest performance score on the field.

The Penn's Grove team, the Techno MOEs, was recognized with a third place trophy for "Innovative Solution" in the research project. The Elk Ridge team, the MOE Maniacs, won a third place trophy for total points on the field.

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Lego League (FLL) is an innovative program designed to build self-confidence, knowledge and life skills while motivating young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology and engineering. The program is considered the "little league" of the FIRST Tech Robotics Challenge for high school students, with students ages nine through 14 eligible to compete.

As part of an annual "Challenge," FLL team members build a robot using LEGO bricks and other elements such as sensors, motors, and gears, gaining hands-on experience in engineering and computer programming principles as they construct and program their robot inventions. At the Regional Qualifier, teams programmed their robots to complete required tasks on a course built by the team members. The research component, called "Power Puzzle," requires teams to determine how to create sustainable options to meet the plan-et's growing energy needs in a way that is good for the environment.

The Penn's Grove and Elk Ridge FLL teams compete in three tournaments during each school year. On November 17, the teams competed in the PA Power Puzzle Tune Up at Montgomery County Community College, where Elk Ridge placed 14th out of a field of 56.

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