Canyon’s First Robotic Team

On Sunday, March 19th, ten 3rd-5th graders known as “The Flying Cows” represented Canyon at the First Lego League-Competition at Legoland. Participants included Noah Gonen, Bowie Shupe, Aries Minardos, Luke Breitenbach, Oliver Williams, Clifford Roberts, Mira Hill, Drew Sansing, Sebastian Tontti. Under the guidance of their coaches, Eric, Mr. Velado and Lily, our participants had an awesome opportunity to practice imaginative thinking and teamwork while challenged to research a real-world problem such as food safety, recycling, energy, etc. and to develop a solution. They were also required to design, build, and program a robot using LEGO MINDSTORMS® technology, then compete on a table-top playing field.


The day started bright and early, before the park even opened. Participants checked in as a team and were escorted to a work room with their coaches (no parents allowed). They started at the “pit table” where they had to organize all of their materials to prepare for their first judged event. The judges met with the team to ask questions about how the team built their robot and why they built it the way they did. All members had to provide input about their design.



Following the first judged event, the team then had an opportunity to test their robot on a mat to determine if any problem solving or corrections would need to be made. They were permitted to do one practice run on the stage in front of an audience. This was a very exciting time for everyone as there were excited crowds in the auditorium, music blaring, and lights and cameras flashing in every direction. It was a very nerve wracking time for parents and coaches, but the team members forged forward and were able to determine what they needed to fine tune for the upcoming rounds.

The teams were shuffled back to the pit to make any programming corrections. They then went through 3 rounds. 4 members at a time were on stage, 2 were ‘drivers’ and 2 were alternates. The judging began and they would get a score for the team depending on if their objectives were met. After each round they would do some fine tuning and then start the next round.

After 3 rounds, teams were dismissed for lunch, giving the judges time to tally points. Participants were told that after lunch they would return for a surprise challenge. The anticipation built over lunch as no one knew what this would entail. But, they knew that a surprise challenge would require them to think quickly on their feet, communicate well and demonstrate productive teamwork. Upon return, they were challenged with the task of building a robot that would move to a designated area, shoot a ball into a basket, and return to it’s original starting point. Coaches were not allowed to assist with this task.  

The Flying Cows were judged not only on the task, but on the FIRST LEGO League Core Values. These values are the cornerstones of the program. They are among the fundamental elements that distinguish FIRST LEGO League from other programs of its kind. By embracing the Core Values, participants learn that friendly competition and mutual gain are not separate goals, and that helping one another is the foundation of teamwork.


  • We are a team
  • We do the work to find solutions with guidance from our coaches and mentors.
  • We know our coaches and mentors don't have all the answers; we learn together.
  • We honor the spirit of friendly competition.
  • What we discover is more important than what we win.
  • We share our experiences with others.
  • We display Gracious Professionalism® and Coopertition® in everything we do.
  • We have FUN!

Canyon Charter was one of the first schools in the region to participate in FIRST LEGO League and placed ninth out of twenty-four teams! I am so proud of our coaches and students for providing this fun and immersive team experience culminating in one of the most highly regarded robotics tournament for elementary age students. In addition to learning programming and mechanical design, team members learned to cooperate and collaborate in order to solve robotics challenges, as well as gaining valuable presentation skills. But most importantly, they had fun! We are hoping to do this again next year, so watch for information in the future on the Canyon Robotics Team. A huge thank you to Coach Eric and Lily & Carlos Velado for providing this exceptional experience for our students. And congratulations to The Flying Cows!