Building on Past Success LEGO Title Goes to Last Year's Runner Up; Lake Zurich Team Takes Second

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Byline: Eileen O. Daday Daily Herald correspondent

A group of seventh graders from Lincoln Junior High School in Mount Prospect, proved that practice does indeed make perfect.

After finishing second with their robot last year, the Cobalt Blue team earned the Champion's Award at the FIRST LEGO League state tournament Saturday at Forest View Educational Center in Arlington Heights.

They now have the chance to advance in April to the FIRST LEGO League World Festival in Atlanta.

Dressed in matching royal blue T-shirts, they emerged the state champions out of a field that included 64 teams and more than 600 children ages 9-14. All day long, they went head-to-head with their robots, built and programmed with the LEGO MINDSTORMS system.

At last weekend's regional in Mount Prospect, Cobalt Blue members said they had made some adjustments on their robot. "We added touch sensors and light sensors," Emma Swanson of Mount Prospect said, "so if the program's not working, they will align the robot up again."

Locally, teams came from Arlington Heights, Des Plaines, Mount Prospect, Palatine, Prospect Heights, Lake Zurich, Mundelein, Lake Forest, Hawthorn Woods, Kildeer, Elgin, and Batavia.

The GearHeads from Lake Zurich Middle School North finished second.

Teams have brainstormed since September around the "Power Puzzle Challenge," where they researched energy usage and energy efficiency in their local communities while programming their robots to accomplish related missions.

During the 2 1/2-minute competition rounds, robots had to do tasks such as installing a solar panel on a house, launching a solar satellite and deploying wind generators. …