The last time we checked in with the FIRST Lego League (FLL) team the All Sparks, they had built and innovated their way to the Canada Cup. At B.C. provincials, the All Sparks team of Ethan Janes, Johnathon Coyne and mentor Kevin Janes placed third.
Their path to the Canada Cup was paved with accomplishments. The All Sparks amassed the Innovation Project Award and the Coach/Mentor Award, and received a Global Innovation Award nomination.
The team added to their impressive season by winning the Breakthrough Award at the June competition.
“The Breakthrough Award celebrates a team that made significant progress in their confidence and capability in both the Robot Games and innovation project, and are a shining example of excellent core values,” said Kevin. “They demonstrate that they understand that what they discover is more important than what they win.”
Taking the Breakthrough Award was a special moment for the All Sparks.
“We weren’t expecting to make it to the Canada Cup and then when we learned that we got the award, which shows all the different things of FLL put together, that was amazing,” said Ethan.
“It felt really nice to accomplish something that is really big, especially coming from a small town,” said Coyne.
For Kevin, the award showed “a culmination” of all the hard work Ethan and Coyne put into their robot and innovation project leading up to the Canada Cup.
FIRST Lego League engages through STEM learning and exploration, from discovery to exploration and then challenges.
An FLL tournament is broken into three categories: robot games, innovation project and core values.
The All Sparks were in tough against the 25 teams from across Canada.
“It was a step up in competition,” said Ethan. “These were the best teams in the country.”
“It was really cool to be amongst all those teams,” said Coyne.
Innovating to combat porch piracy
Each year, FLL teams are given a theme. The theme for the 2021-2022 season was Cargo Connect. Teams were challenged to create an innovation project related to transportation and delivery.
The All Sparks project focused on porch piracy, or the stealing of packages from doorsteps. The team improved on their project in several ways.
“We looked into finding out which materials to use,” said Coyne.
“And we were looking at different people who we’d be selling the product to and making an approximate price-point,” added Ethan.
The All Sparks said they spent more time preparing their robot, named Pumpkin, for the Canada Cup.
In the robot games, teams are charged with building a robot that can complete challenges on an FLL board. Points are rewarded for completing a task as well as the mission’s difficulty.
“Pumpkin did pretty well,” said Ethan. “We got to see different teams’ robot runs, and Pumpkin was about in the middle.”
Coyne said the team switched strategies and programmed Pumpkin to complete new missions.
“We removed submissions that took a long time and weren’t as reliable,” said Coyne. “And did ones that are more fun.”
Pumpkin’s biggest win, said Coyne and Ethan, was when the robot completed three missions without having to return to base camp.
What’s up next
The Canada Cup was the last competition of the 2021-2022 season, but the All Sparks are already looking ahead to 2022-2023.
The new season’s theme will be called Superpowered, which will be all about green energy.
It’s a theme, the All Sparks said, that has got them really excited for the next season.
Also exciting for the All Sparks is three other Yukon FIRST Lego League teams taking on the Superpowered challenge.
“I want to meet a lot of new teams,” said Coyne. “I think that we might be able to have a tournament in the Yukon this year because since there are more teams. We’ll get to see other people’s takes on different challenges and how they approach and overcome them.”
If any of the new teams want advice on FLL, the All Sparks said they’d be happy to help out.