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News - April 25, 2005

Mindstorms Mayhem
LEGO competition:
Milford-area team fares well in Atlanta meet

By Gil Bliss
Union Leader Correspondent

MILFORD - The New Hampshire State Champion "Mindstorms Mayhem" LEGO team returned home yesterday from international competition in Atlanta yesterday at the First LEGO League World Festival, representing the Granite State against 75 regional winners from the U.S. and 20 other countries.

An entourage of about 35 people, consisting of homeschooled students between ages 9 and 13 and their families, spent three days mostly at the Georgia Dome, where they won second place in the coveted Director's Award and first place in Robot Performance.

The team meets in the basement of Bill and Charlotte Gray's Milford home and represented New Hampshire last year, bringing home the Director's Award. The Director's Award is given to the team that excels in all judging categories, including robot performance, project performance, teamwork and technical performance, Charlotte Gray said.

She said that according to the competition program, the award "measures how the children inspire and motivate others about the excitement and wonders of science and technology, while demonstrating gracious professionalism."

The award gives equal weight to all four arenas of competition, and additional consideration to how the team demonstrated FIRST LEGO League values to all of the judges.

The first place in robot performance is presented to the team whose robot achieved the highest single best score of the three Robot Performance rounds. The team scored 405 and 400 in their best rounds, Gray said.

Highlights included the team getting to meet Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen, owner and board vice chairman of the LEGO Group and also got a tour of the Cable News Network building.

This year's tournament robotic theme was "No Limits," and the students studied various public places in their communities to determine which ones were accessible to people with physical disabilities. The local group focused their research on public libraries and the current technology available there.

The robot missions involved completing tasks that a disabled person might encounter, including moving a CD to a desk, putting a ball into a basket, serving a tray of food, feeding pets and other activities.

Mindstorms Mayhem has members from Milford, Bedford, Merrimack, Lyndeborough, Wilton and Hollis and local businesses helped fund the trip.

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