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Lake Oswego teams earn robotics accolades

FIRST LEGO League Qualifying Tournaments held in December


by: REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Dont Panic and Always Carry a Towel presented its trophies from a robotics tournament to Robert Caplinger, principal of Lake Oswego Junior High, the school most of the team members attend: from left, front row: Michael Quattromani, Divya Kumar, Brendan Schaezler, Jeffery Ma, Esther Schaezler (coach); back row: Robert Caplinger, Adrian Edwards, Anushka Nair, Zhangxiang Lu and Ethan Schaezler.There were six award winners from Lake Oswego during events for the Oregon FIRST LEGO League Qualifying Tournaments.

In the past two weekends, 24 qualifying tournaments were held in Oregon and Southwest Washington for the Intel Oregon FIRST LEGO League Championship in January. There were 472 teams registered with 3,383 members, and 110 teams advanced to state.

FIRST LEGO League is a team engineering and science program for children ages 9 to 14. Each year there is a challenge with a theme, and this year’s theme was Nature’s Fury, focusing on natural disasters. The challenge has three parts: the robot’s performance of certain tasks; a team’s display of core values, such as being respectful of teammates and competitors; and a project that includes designing a real-life solution for a problem, such as flooding or wildfires for the Nature’s Fury theme.by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - The NOOGEL robotics team earned some major awards at recent qualifying tournaments for a state competition. Team members are, from left: Kevin Tsai, Sophie Villeneuve, Clay Skeen, Carl Bergstrom and Jack Bride.

Nature’s fury actually struck the tournaments. There were about 38 teams that couldn’t attend because of the freezing weather. So there are 10 slots open, and teams who couldn’t participate in a tournament will be chosen by lottery.

Using the theme Nature’s Fury may have been “tempting the fates,” said Cathy Swider, operations director of the Oregon Robotics Tournament & Outreach Program. Allowing a lottery upholds FLL’s mission of having as many kids as possible participate.

Brothers Ethan and Brendan Schaezler of Lake Oswego were on the eight-person team Don’t Panic and Always Carry a Towel, which was honored with a First Place Champions Award, the top award, as well as the Robot Performance Award and Advancement to State Championship, or ACE, at the Sunday tournament at Hillsboro High School.

“It hasn’t really dawned on me that (my team) just won,” said Brendan, 12, a seventh-grader at Lake Oswego Junior High.by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - The Xploding RoboWheels were among several robotics teams from Lake Oswego that were successful at recent competitions. Team members, from left, front row, are: Kira Takara, Natalie Peterman, Katie Oppenheimer, Larissa Chan, Sera Lew and Ryan Lew; and, back row, from left: coaches Dale Kresge, Lillian Oppenheimer and Ron Lew.

Ethan, mentor-in-training for the team, said many people may not realize how much time and effort go into participating on a robotics team. Team members work hard several days a week, and it’s important to learn how to work well with others.

“When you work on a big team, you need to not blatantly contradict someone or say ‘your idea is stupid,’” said Ethan, a Lake Oswego High School freshman. “You add on to their ideas instead of shooting down their ideas.”

Don’t Panic and Always Carry a Towel also was lauded for exhibiting core values.

The other winners from Lake Oswego were as follows, Swider said:

  • NOOGEL snagged the First Place Champions Award and ACE at the Sunday tournament at Mentor Graphics in Wilsonville.

  • The Xploding RoboWheels landed the First Place Champions Award, Robot Performance Award and ACE at the Saturday tournament at Catlin Gabel in Portland.

  • LO Robotics Cougars received the Robot Performance Award Dec. 8 at Salmon Creek Elementary School in Vancouver, Wash.

  • LO Robotics Hawks were honored with the Rising Star and ACE at the Dec. 8 tournament at Salmon Creek.

  • Radioactive Raging Robots earned the Second Place Champions Award and ACE at a Dec. 8 tournament at the Intel Jones Farm in Hillsboro.

    Jillian Daley can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and 503-636-1281, ext. 109. Follow her on Twitter, @jilliandaley.



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