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BIS B.O.L.T. FIRST LEGO squad strikes again, qualifies for international competition

Published Tuesday, December 11, 2018

BOLT group photo

B.O.L.T. members: Lily Bunton, Landon Kokinda, Tori McCay, Samantha Miles, Ariana Miller, Chase Moore, Charlotte Mueller, Denzel Reid, Annalese Smith, Joshua Wallace

"Thunder is good, thunder is impressive; but it is lightning that does the work." -- Mark Twain 

When the Berkeley Intermediate FIRST LEGO League (FLL) team changed its name to B.O.L.T. in 2013, team members and coaches had no idea how appropriate the new name would eventually become. To them, B.O.L.T. was simply an acronym for "Berkeley's Outstanding LEGO team." 

At some point following the name change, the team adopted a lightning bolt for its logo. Like a bolt of lightning, the Berkeley Intermediate team is now known at FLL robotics/problem-solving competitions for being full of energy, power and beauty. FLL judges would agree that B.O.L.T. exemplifies the core values that electrify the program and set it apart from other STEM competitions.

As the door is soon to close on 2018, B.O.L.T is preparing for a showdown on the world showcase. The team won the award of Grand Champion at the East State Championship on December 8, qualifying it for a chance to participate in one of two international tournaments -- Houston or Uruguay. 

You might imagine a mad scramble to prepare for such an event, but B.O.L.T. has struck the same place more than once. In 2014, the team qualified for and competed in the international competition in Fayetteville, Arkansas. In 2016, they competed on the international stage at the Mountain State Invitational in Fairfield, West Virginia. Last year, the team competed in the North American Open Championship at LEGOLAND in Carlsbad, California

This year's team of 10 consists of six returning members. Teacher/coach Nicole Brevard-Hines describes them as creative and enthusiastic. 

"They also respond well when the pressure is on," she said. "...They just pull together and they figure things out." 

More important than the competitions are the opportunities B.O.L.T has seized. Those moments have provided experiences and knowledge many students will never reach. 

Last year when the students traveled to California, it was the first time any of them had been to The Golden State. Experiences this year include the opportunity to meet the person designing/building NASA's newest space shuttle. 

"They were able to sit and talk with her. Just to have the opportunity to meet the people they've met and learn the things they have learned -- to have these opportunities is just phenomenal," Brevard-Hines said.

BOLT robot

The B.O.L.T. robot has a gyro sensor feature. Bevel gears are used to raise and lower the attachment arm on the robot. Programs on the robot are capable of performing multiple missions. 

NOTE: A first-year robotics team from Devon Forest Elementary also competed in the state competition and finished sixth among 39 teams.

Brian Troutman