First Lego League Championship Tournament at SUNY IT

by Sandra Foyt on December 6, 2010

in Enrichment Ideas

It may be a while before I’m fully recovered from coaching the Crash Test Dummies team at the First Lego League Championship Tournament that took place on December 4, 2010 at SUNY IT in Utica, NY. The tournament was the culmination of several months of research, planning, and practice. And now that it’s over, my circuits are fried.

I need at least another week before I can contemplate taking on any new volunteer assignments.

In the meantime, I’m posting photos and videos from this incredible event.


Crash Test Dummies Team Highlights

Although only an hour and a half away from Albany, we spent the night in Utica because we had to arrive at the tournament at 7:30AM. From that early start until the closing ceremony at 4PM, our team was kept in perpetual motion competing in all the rounds and events of the tournament.

Opening Ceremony Parade


Practice Round


Research Presentation

D.R.E.G.S. FLL Research Project

Based on our experience last year, we had expected to find a projector available in the research presentation room. Big mistake. The lack of projector was just one of many changes from the previous year that were covered in a coach training session that I missed.

Another team kindly offered to let us use their projector, but they discovered that there wasn’t sufficient time to warm up their projector in the allotted time. We decided instead to present our video on a large screen computer that I had brought, just in case.

The video portion of Crash Test Dummies’ Research Presentation can be found at:

Technical Judging

They were on their own at the Technical Judging as I was trying to track down a projector for the Research Presentation. The boys claim it went well, but we’ll see what the scores say. I doubt that it could have gone too well since I forgot to provide copies of the Mindstorm program used for the robot missions. Not my brightest move.

Core Values Judging


Core Values Judging took place in a quiet room where a pair of judges gave the team a task, followed by an interview. The team was given a choice of three boxes to randomly select their task. When they opened the box, they found a bag of pennies which had to be stacked within five minutes.

As the boys realized, the assignment was more about teamwork than results. Afterwards, they were questioned about the challenges and victories they faced in working together on this task, and throughout the Body Forward challenges.

Competition Rounds

FLL 2010 Body Forward Missions Robot Game

There are three competition rounds, each two and a half minutes long, spread throughout the day. Inevitably, the mission programs that worked so well in rehearsal, malfunctioned during the tournament. With the time available in between rounds, the team headed to a practice table where they worked out some of the bugs.

Our team succeeded in raising their score from a 75 in the first round, to a 135 in the final round. And that was despite a glitch on the field that caused them to waste time on a stuck syringe retrieval mission.

The Crash Test Dummies were elated to place third overall in the robot mission games.

In their spare time.

There wasn’t much time in between judged events, but the team spared a few moments to check out the high school robotics demonstration and to ogle the trophies.

High School Robotics


The high school robotics demonstration took the Mindstorm NXT program to a whole new level.

Lego Trophies

After all the hard work that went into preparing for this tournament, the Crash Test Dummies would have loved to bring home a trophy.


They didn’t have high expectations of winning, and were just glad to have done their best. They knew this tournament was all about encouraging an interest in science and technology, while promoting core values such as teamwork and gracious professionalism. Still, those Lego trophies were pretty awesome.


FLL SUNYIT Macarena Dance

While the judges tabulated the final scores, all the teams were contained on the bleachers. We sat for a huge, group photo before being entertained with trivia questions, jokes, and even group dances.

Team Photos


Every team was called up to the waiting line of volunteers to receive a medal, and move onto the team photo stand. Afterwards, we cheered on the winning teams, ever hopeful, but not overly optimistic.

Young Mentor Award


At the very end, when all the team awards had been handed out, we were amazed to discover that a member of our team would take home one of the coveted trophies. Somehow, the judges had learned about a young high school friend who helped launch our team, and who was been my partner in coaching the team for the past two years. Ryan Morash deservedly earned the Young Mentors Award!

First Lego League @ SUNY IT Photos

Photos from this event can be found on the Albany Kid Flickr site at FLL@SUNYIT 2010.

First Lego League @ SUNY IT Videos

Videos from this event can be found at the brand new Albany Kid You Tube Channel. So far, we have the following videos:

  • FLL SUNYIT Macarena Dance – It wasn’t all about Legos as selected members of the audience participated in a group Macarena Dance at First Lego League Tournament at SUNYIT.
  • FLL 2010 Body Forward Missions Robot Game – The Crash Test Dummies earned a respectful 135 points in their third competition round at the First Lego League Tournament at SUNY IT.
  • D.R.E.G.S. FLL Research Project – The Crash Test Dummies present their research for the Body Forward project at the First Lego League tournament at SUNY IT.


| Sandra Foyt is a storyteller, photographer, and road trip junkie. A veteran of six cross-country road trips, she drove Route 66, the Lincoln Highway, the fossil freeway, the extraterrestrial highway, and even “the loneliest road in America.” Find her on, an award-winning destination guide to extraordinary travel in and from Northeast USA, on her portfolio site at, and in freelance gigs on Family Travel 411, Minitime, Huffington Post, and Matador Network. Email:, Twitter @SandraFoyt.

Leah Akins December 11, 2010 at 10:53 pm

Thank you so much for posting this on the HVFLL facebook discussion page about tournament day. It was fun to read the SUNYIT tournament. I had a good time when i was there last year 🙂
Leah Akins
Dutchess Community College
Treasurer, HVFLL

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