Teams from GRIC participate in FIRST LEGO League robotics comp

Emma Hughes

Gila River Indian News


FIRST LEGO League (FLL) “City Shaper” robotics tournament, was held on Nov. 16 at the Intel Corporation in Chandler. FLL is a global robotics program, designed to ignite an enthusiasm for discovery of the basic principles of science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEM) in children, ages 9-14. FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) was founded in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people.


Teams design, build, and program EV3 robots to perform autonomous “missions” on a themed playing field. Three teams from the Gila River Indian Community participated in the tournament: “St. Peter’s Thadai” from Saint Peter Mission School, “K.M.T.K.” from Komatke Boys & Girls Club of the East Valley and “Lego Skaters” from Sacaton Boys & Girls Club.


“They’re going to see teams that are experienced,” said Jo Ellen Kinnamon, STREAM teacher with St. Peter Mission School. The day before the tournament, Kinnamon and her students stayed after school to practice. Most of the students expressed that they were excited and nervous for the tournament, which brought in twenty-four teams of about 200 kids from all over the state. 


Although being new to the First Lego League competition, the Community teams did very well. Participating in robotics tournaments enables children to gain real life experiences in team work, collaboration, programing skills, engineering problem solving skills and prepares the next generation to enter STEM careers, according to Anna Prakash, an engineer with Intel & cofounder of nonprofit Education Empowers Inc. promoting STEM and robotics for local children.


For the past 3 months, Saint Peter’s team worked with their Intel mentors like Ms. Jolene Begay, who currently leads the Intel Native American Network (INAN). For the Sacaton Boys & Girls club FLL team, kids worked with their coaches from the club Matt Burke and Intel coaches, Seema Madinur and Jeremy Walker. For the Komatke Boys & Girls club FLL team, kids worked with Intel coaches from the club Bill McConnell-Hoff, and coaches from Intel, Jolene Begay & Anna Prakash.