PUBLISHED: 4:41 PM on Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Robotic tournament winners announced in Juneau Competition
Team "Irrationals" from Dzantik'i Heeni Middle School took top honors on Sunday at the First Lego League robotics tournament in Juneau.

More than a dozen teams and 100 students and coaches participated in the competition. Team "Floyd Droids" from Floyd Dryden Middle School took second place. The Southeast winners will Alaska winners compete with other Alaska teams on January 12. The national competition is next April in Atlanta, GA.

"This was an exciting new event for Southeast Alaska, and I hope the audience and participants enjoyed it as much as I did," said tournament organizer Rebecca Parks, education specialist for SpringBoard, a program of Juneau Economic Development Council.

This year's theme challenge was energy management and conservation, and teams were invited to build robots, using packaged kits, to demonstrate this theme.

Individual category winners were: Douglas home school "Spybots" (Design and Programming); Dzantik'i Heeni Middle School "Nuclear Beavers" (Project Research); Floyd Dryden Middle School "Dryden Impact" (Timed Competition); and Juneau Boys & Girls Club "Cyberguys & Girls" (Teamwork). The team coach award went to Becky Engstrom of Gastineau Elementary School.

"We hope this challenge catches on and that more schools from Southeast will participate in 2008. I've already begun planning for next Fall's event," she said.

"JEDC and SpringBoard think science and math education are important for our future workforce development. Science, engineering and technology jobs are needed now in Alaska and nationwide. We hope this kind of competition gives some students an increased interest to become scientists," she added.

Parks said the event would not have been possible without the volunteer support, team coaches and sponsors ConocoPhillips, the Juneau Economic Development Council, AEL&P and Hansen Gress. She also extended a special thank you to Dave Patterson, who tournament attendees will remember as the guy in the kilt. Patterson is the volunteer director of the Alaska Robotics Education Association and the Alaska's statewide partner with FIRST.