It’s that time of year again! SLI’s high school students will be participating in FIRST® Tech Challenge (FTC). This year’s competition, titled “Velocity Vortex,” is played like a game, with different achievements awarding teams different points. Most of the goals involve robots moving a ball (sometimes large, sometimes small) into a particular area of the arena. Its complicated rules result in constantly changing game conditions, requiring creative problem-solving and quick decision-making from participants. For more information, check out FTC’s 2016/17 challenge website.

While the high school students are focusing on FTC, for the third year in a row, SLI’s middle school students are teaming up to compete in FIRST LEGO League (FLL). Each team designs and programs a robot to complete challenges that change every year. This year’s competition theme is “Animal Allies,” focusing on endangered species and wildlife preservation. Not only will the robotic challenges center around that theme; but teams are required to research and present solutions to real world problems that relate to the theme.

This year, the SLI FLL team titled “King of the Ocean” decided to design and create a website to present their research about the endangered Delta Smelt of Sacramento. They’ve prototyped a color sensor for detecting plankton levels in the smelt’s living environment. Check out their findings on their website at

Update: We are pleased to announce that the following awards and honors have been won by our FLL and FTC teams in the local qualifying tournaments!

At the high-school FTC competitions, three teams were invited to participate in the semi-final rounds of the qualifying tournaments and  one team was awarded for their advancement to the championship round of the qualifying tournaments. 

At the middle-school FLL tournaments, Project Awards were given to two SLI teams, “The Albino Alligators” and “Animal Allegiance.” The Judges’ Award  was given to the SLI team “Audacious Turtle 51”. And the SLI team “King of the Ocean” was nominated for the Global Innovation Award and they will be presenting their research at a judged showcase in 2017. In addition, the teams “Audacious Turtle 51” and “Animal Allegiance” are advancing to the district/regional championships in early 2017!

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