ILEO 2010 Competition Results

Posted on December 11th, 2010

Via press release from IBM (written by me):


The 5th Annual IBM LEGO Education Outreach robotics competition took place on December 8th. Area students flocked to RCTC from as far as Cannon Falls and Eau Claire, WI to demonstrate their solutions to IBM-supplied challenges using LEGO robots. This competition consisted of two parts: a long-term problem that students worked on for approximately four weeks, and a short-term problem that students worked on at the competition.

Over 300 students from 20 schools competed in various divisions. Ranging in age from 4th through 12th grades, students showed how they addressed long-term challenges like:

  • Creating an autonomous robot that could follow a trail through a forest without damaging any trees
  • Playing tug of war against another robot
  • Reading instructions from the floor to tell the robot what to do next
  • Clearing a room of ping-pong balls

These challenges pressured teams to come up with unique mechanical and progammatic designs. “I was impressed by the sheer variety of solutions presented,” said one judge. “Every solution was different, but effective.”

Once all of the teams presented their long-term solution, the teams were given a short-term challenge. In forty minutes, teams had to solve problems like:

  • Creating a robot that could bowl down pins in a narrow lane without falling off the edge of the arena
  • Competing with other teams to try to clear out a room of ping pong balls by throwing them into the competition

These challenges measured how students “thought on their feet”, and allowed students to demonstrate how they could adapt their solutions to solve new problems.

Here are the final results:

RCX Standard:


1) Willow Creek Middle School: ILEGO (George Bao, Noah Hart)
2) Schaefer Academy: Brainstorms (Joshua Hamel, Caleb Hofer, Billy Ricker)
3) Fairmont Middle School: Team ABBA (Aaron Hendricks, Blake Haugen)


1) Kellogg Middle School: Built (Jeff Duffield, Logan Hotlen, Nate Schrader, Nick Holden)
2) St. John the Evangelist School: LEGO Jedis (Peter Alexander, Michael Ellman, Kyle Jakub, Mitchell Nelson)
3) Schaefer Academy: A Team (Alex Douglas, Ben Harker, Tim Waters)

RCX Advanced:


1) St. Francis of Assisi School: Beastly Brownies (Andrew Kowal, Riley Orr, Matthew Ryan)
2) St. John the Evangelist School: Wall-E (Luca Galbraith, Dean Nation, Natalie Nation, Joey Stein)
3) St. John the Evangelist School: TF141 (Amrita Bhagia, Michelle Fitzgerald, Nick Johnson)


1) St. Francis of Assisi School: Awesome Robot Unicorns (Brad Fisher, David Wick)
2) St. Francis of Assisi School: Meynka (Catherine Cunningham, Becky Frank, Tessa Nordman)
3) St. John the Evangelist School: TF141 (Amrita Bhagia, Michelle Fitzgerald, Nick Johnson)

NXT Standard:


1) Dover-Eyota High School: Eagle 1 (Jeremy Evans, Tirzah Jones, Logan Pearson, Tony Staloch)
2) Dodge County Home School Association: Team Ultimate (Alex Verburg, Spencer Zweifel, Kendra Willette, Morgan Verburg)
3) Zumbrota-Mazeppa High School: Robot Rats (Nick Majerus, Evan Kienholz, James Goodman)


1) Zumbrota-Mazeppa High School: Robot Rats (Nick Majerus, Evan Kienholz, James Goodman)
2) Zumbrota-Mazeppa High School: A-Team (Cody Spidahl, Ben Budensiek, Nikki Stehr)
3) Friedell Middle School: The Storm (Nikhil Marda, Sam Rowekamp, Ben Fick, Andy Sadler)

NXT Advanced:


1) Lourdes High School: Ja-Lo (Jacob Nordman, Logan Jenson)
2) Century High School: THEM (Elden Lai, Sean Lin, Frank Peng)
3) Lourdes High School: Z Squared (Zachary Larsen, Zachary Belch)


1) Century High School: THEM (Elden Lai, Sean Lin, Frank Peng)
2) Dodge County Home School Association: Team Awesome (Noah Zwiefel, Ashley Verburg, Mitchell Verburg)
3) Pine Island High School: TNJE (Tommy Palof, Nate Simon, Evan Jaeger, Jordan Cook)

Feeling the Christmas Spirit

Posted on December 5th, 2010

This year, I’ve felt more in the Christmas spirit than I have in a long time. It might be because my wife and I are expecting a baby in six short months.  It might be because my neighbors have young ones who are so excited by the prospect of having Santa visit their homes.

And it might be because my heart’s grown three sizes this year.

Whatever the cause, I’ve been watching Christmas movies almost non-stop this weekend as my wife and I transform our home into a Christmas wonderland.  We have lights and decorations on the tree, stockings hung on the entertainment center (no fireplace at our house), and a giant inflatable snowman floating in our snow-covered lawn.

Over the weekend, a nearby small town had a “Olde-fashioned Days of Christmas” celebration, where we saw penguins, reindeer, and the Grinch.  Our neighbors (as close as family), my wife and I all traveled across time and space to this land of fantasy.  The children shrieked with laughter and delight at the animals and some familiar friends, like Elmo, Grover, the Grinch, and of course, Santa and Mrs. Clause.

At one point, we were even approached by the crabby old miser, Ebenezer Scrooge, who spat, “Bah Humbug!” at us as we passed by his house.  Our Christmas spirit was strong, however, and we fended him off with a joyous round of “Jingle Bells”.

We then came home and enjoyed a meal with our neighbors, putting A Muppet Family Christmas on our projector for the kids.  Watching the kids dancing around with the songs (in full disclosure: I was dancing with them too) made me look forward to a couple years down the road, when my own child will be able to do the same.

A friend, in good nature, commented to me the other day that this will be the last Christmas my wife and I will be able to spend alone. There was no malice intended; indeed, he was trying to help us appreciate our time together.

“I don’t see this as the last Christmas Brenda and I get to spend together,” I replied.  “I see this as the first Christmas where we get to look forward to sharing our holidays with our child.”

Perhaps that’s the real difference for how I feel this Christmas season.  Whatever the cause, I hope you’re enjoying the holidays as much as I am!