The Thunder Dawgs and the Lightning Pups, two teams of 9-14-year-olds from A.E. Phillips Lab School, took home honors in the Louisiana First LEGO League statewide robotics competition Dec. 6 in New Orleans.legoteam1

Forty teams from across Louisiana participated in the competition, from which the overall winner is eligible to participate in the World Festival to be held in April in Atlanta. The theme for this year’s competition was “Climate Connections.”

Teams spend weeks designing and perfecting their robots and performing research on a science project so that they can compete against other teams, said Dr. Hisham Hegab, an associate professor of mechanical engineering and Thunder Dawgs coach.

Each team researched the current and future climate for their communities and how that may affect the community as part of the research component of the competition.

Louisiana has been participating in the event since 2003. First LEGO League was founded in 1998 as an international program to encourage 9-14-year-olds in science and technology.

“I think the best thing about First LEGO league is that it is an incredibly fun way for kids to learn about engineering and science,” Hegab said. “It allows kids to see the exciting aspects of engineering by building a robot to accomplish specific tasks while learning about science that is relevant to the world today.”

legoteam2Thunder Dawgs members included: Ben Sawyer, Ryan Duke, Jonathan Craig, Rachel Hegab, M’lle Schroder, Jonah Doxey and Margreaux Smith. The team placed first in the robot performance competition and third in the research competition. The Thunder Dawgs research project studied the effects of future climate change on the Sparta Aquifer.

Lightning Pups members included: Nathan Hegab, Peter Howard, Caleb Murphy, David Ramachadran and Connor Thompson. The team placed in the Top 20 of the robot performance competition.

Written by Beth Christian