Members of the FIRST Lego League championship Mindstorms Mayhem team are (front, from left): Jacob Krupkin and Melissa Gray of Milford, David Schunemann of Hollis, Nathan Streeter of Bedford, Daniel Umenhofer of Wilton, plus, (back, from left): Mentor Christopher Jennigs of Merrimack, coaches Ken Streeter of Bedford and Bill Gray of Milford, Nathan Gray and Benjamin Krupkin of Milford, Brian Jennings of Merrimack, Benjamin Streeter of Bedford and Victoria Umenhofer of Wilton.

Local FIRST Lego League team wins overall International title

ATLANTA On this trip, a group of the very best and brightest students from New Hampshire proved they had a lot more than Georgia on their minds.

From April 15 to April 17 in the Georgia Dome, Mindstorms Mayhem, a FIRST Lego League robotics team consisting of home-schoolers from Wilton, Milford, Merrimack, Hollis and Bedford, competed against 47 champions from 39 states and five other nations to win the Director's Award at the FIRST Lego League International Invitational Tournament.

In December, team Mindstorms Mayhem, one of several area teams sponsored by BAE Systems, competed against 48 other teams from around New Hampshire to provide both a robotic solution and a research presentation on interplanetary mission challenges.

As winners of the Director's Award at the New Hampshire State Tournament, Mindstorms Mayhem represented the state at the FIRST Lego League Invitational held in conjunction with the FIRST Robotics Competition Championship in Atlanta.

During the three-day International Invitational event, the team's robot competed against other robots to complete nine "Mission Mars" challenges in two-and-a-half minutes. The missions were designed to simulate those obstacles faced by NASA scientists and engineers in the Mars rover missions. Mindstorms Mayhem team members researched power sources for future habitation modules on Mars.

"They determined that geothermal power is the best option if robots can discover geothermal hot spots on Mars," said Mayhem Coach Bill Gray. "They presented their research as a channel-surfing skit. In five minutes, the judges saw a game show, a news interview, a science talk show, a rap song and an interview with a robot designer."

Mindstorm Mayhem's performance earned them the tournament's coveted "Director's Award," given to the most well-rounded team that excels in all judging categories, including technical areas, research and teamwork.

FIRST Lego League is an international program whose goal is to give youngsters 9 to 14 the opportunity to discover how exciting and rewarding science and technology can be. Participants develop problem-solving skills and teamwork as they design, build, program and operate autonomous robots to meet the year's mission challenge.

Gray added that Mindstorms Mayhem is very grateful to the many business, community groups, and individual sponsors whose contributions made it possible for the team to travel to Atlanta to compete in the Invitational tournament.

For more information about the team or the FIRST Lego League, go to the team's Web site: