As the Southern California FIRST¬Æ LEGO¬Æ League (“FLL”) Champions, the St. Paul the Apostle’s Robotics Team qualified to attend the World Festival Championship Competition in St. Louis in April. And the rookie team came through, being awarded World Festival second place in the research project presentation. The event, known as the ultimate Sport for the Mind, is comprised of four championship competitions, including robotics and tech challenges. The St. Paul students — Steve Cox, Bennett Johnson, Jackson Jones, Matt Kozakowski, Christopher Lewis, Carmen Voskuhl and Reid Whitney — were coached by Jennifer Hardy and Richard Lewis.The Saints are a rookie team who began their first season last August. After winning the Southern California Championship, the team was determined to do well at World Festival and make their principal, Daughter of Mary and Joseph Sister Stella Marie Enright — the team’s most enthusiastic supporter — and the whole St. Paul’s community proud. They met with more doctors, physical therapists and engineers to improve their “Sensor Shoe” that aides senior citizens who have balance challenges. The sensors, placed on the soles of shoes and attached to vibrators, alert the senior if he or she becomes unbalanced. The Saints have even applied for a patent for the Sensor Shoe. They also redesigned their robot Izi (named after St. Isidore, patron saint of technology), making it smaller and studier, so that each chassis was able to perform more tasks and earn more points on the competition’s playing board. The season that began with more than 29,000 worldwide FLL teams ended with 80 regional championship teams (40 international and 40 American) competing at the World Festival. The Saints had the opportunity to meet kids from around the world, were introduced to many cultures and had the trip of a lifetime. Sister Enright, along with many parents and grandparents, traveled to St. Louis to cheer the home team on. FIRST (Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is about encouraging kids to learn about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and in the process learn critical thinking, team-building and presentation skills. Teams are judged in four categories: core values, research project, robot design and robot performance.{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2013/0607/olarobotics/{/gallery}