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Gigi Ekstrom
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On Saturday, January 25, the Lakehill Bionicles participated in its second FIRST Tech Challenge Qualifier for the year at Woodrow Wilson High School. This event was their last chance to advance to the North Texas Regional Tournament. Being close to home, the team had several Lakehill families, students, and staff in the audience cheering them on.
 
The students began with the Judges' panel, which boosted their confidence. After their robot, Mata Nui, passed inspection, the rest of the day was filled with match play and additional interviews with judges. The Bionicles ended match play with a 3-2 record. 
 
The Bionicles placed in three of the five main award categories. The team earned the runner-up for the Design Award which focuses on industrial design from both an aesthetic and functional perspective. The Bionicles were also awarded runner-up for the Collins Aerospace Innovate Award focusing on innovation and out-of-the box ideas. The team was honored a third time as the runner-up for the Think Award, which focuses on the engineering design process, especially the underlying science and mathematics of the Robot design and game strategies.
 
The final award given was the prestigious Inspire Award. According to FIRST, the Inspire Award is, "given to the team that best embodies the ‘challenge’ of the FIRST Tech Challenge program. The team that receives this award is a strong ambassador for FIRST programs and a role model FIRST team. This team is a top contender for many other judged awards and is a gracious competitor. The Inspire Award winner is an inspiration to other teams, acting with Gracious Professionalism® both on and off the playing field. This team shares their experiences, enthusiasm, and knowledge with other teams, sponsors, their community, and the judges. Working as a unit, this team will have showed success in performing the task of designing and building a Robot."
 
"Receiving first place in the Inspire Award is the highest honor at a First Tech Challenge tournament, and is the first spot that is guaranteed advancement to the North Texas Regional tournament," said co-sponsor Jennifer Herta. The team was thrilled when the emcee declared Team 14904, the Lakehill Bionicles, as the winner of the day's most coveted award.
 
The Lakehill Bionicles will advance to Regionals and once again compete for a chance to attend the World Championships in Houston, Texas in April. The North Texas Regional Tournament will take place on Saturday, February 15, at Wylie East High School. In addition to the Regional Tournament, the Bionicles will be taking part in the TAPPS Robotics competition in Waco on March 30.
 
The Lakehill Bionicles are continuing their work to make their robot, teamwork, documentation, and presentation even better. The team is grateful to Lakehill faculty, staff, and families for their continued support of the Lakehill Bionicles.
 
To learn more about Lakehill, visit http://www.lakehillprep.org/.
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