Over 350 children have enjoyed building and programming their LEGO Mindstorm robots and learning about the interactions between humans and animals during the past season’s FIRST® LEGO® League Animal AlliesSM theme. Fifty-six teams of 9 to 14 year olds were coached by over 130 volunteers. Qualifying competitions were held in Rapid City and Sioux Falls. During the qualifiers, the teams presented their innovative solutions to problems which occur when humans interact with animals, displayed the prowess of their programming and robot design and exhibited their teamwork. Over 100 volunteers helped make these events a fun celebration of the season for our teams.

Thirty-six teams advanced from the qualifiers to the State Championship which was held at Augustana University on January 28. An estimated 750 team members and their fans attended opening and closing ceremonies in the Elmen Center. Robot Runs were held in the Elmen Center accompanied by an MC doing play by play and a livestream for those unable to attend. In the Humanities Center, teams presented their projects, robot design and teamwork to judges. Three teams advanced from our State Championship to national competitions.

The Fancy Flamingos, composed of members of the Muslim Community Center of Sioux Falls, were our first place champions. Their project is a smart phone app to determine the health of your dog by taking pictures of the dog’s eye. Their robot was the top performer in the Robot Runs. They will be attending the World Festival in St. Louis, MO on April 26-29.

The Four Frogs, composed of 4-H members from Dakota Dunes, were our 2nd Place Winners. They designed a Catmobile, a vehicle for people to play with cats before adopting them. They are raising funds to make their design a reality. Their robot was the top performer at their qualifier. They will be advancing for the 2nd consecutive year to the Razorback Invitational in Fayetteville, AR on May 18 – 21.
The Spearfish Block Busters will join The Four Frogs at the Razorback Invitational. The Block Busters won the Mechanical Design award at the State Championship. The Block Busters studied the barriers to raising Bison instead of cattle and for the second year had the top performing robot at the Rapid City Qualifier. The Block Busters are composed of a group of friends who reside in Spearfish SD. We wish our three teams all the luck at their national competitions!