CHESHIRE — When it comes to topics such as technology and STEM, most experts insist on the importance of getting students interested and engaged at an early age.
Jobs in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) are often high paying, and always in need of young minds. At Dodd Middle School, a new crop of students are “using the force” of creativity and innovation to make their mark in the world of STEM. In fact, these “knights” used their skills to grab first place at the Lego League (FLL) Challenge State Championship last month.
Dodd’s Jedi Knights team, named after the famed “Star Wars” heroes, is composed of five students — Auritro Dasgupta, Lekhan Nair, Rishi Hedge, Shreyas Illindala, and Yashovardhan Biswas — who have been together since 2019. The group is led by their two coaches, Shweta Hedge and Bivash Dasgupta.
The team competed in the FLL challenge at Glastonbury High School, which required teams to complete various missions in an effort to build a Lego robot within two and a half minutes. The “knights” competed against 36 other teams to claim the top prize.
“I have loved LEGO since I was a (little) kid and am also interested in coding,” Auritro Dasgupta said. “Being on this team allowed me to build and program our own automated robot using LEGO technic pieces. I also got to learn about real world challenges in cargo transportation. And during all these competitions I also learned how to get over problems as a team and how we could use each other’s strengths.”
The competition used current supply chain problems to encourage students to devise innovative ways at addressing the issue.
The Jedi Knights created trackable, lightweight, foldable shipping containers to address the container imbalance issue in supply chain logistics. The containers reduce fuel consumption and the overall carbon footprint.
“(We were in) a complete state of disbelief when we learned that we had won,” coach Shweta Hedge said. “Especially considering the fact that we were competing against some seriously seasoned teams.”
The Jedi Knights, close friends since 2019, credit the group for strengthening their knowledge as well as their personal friendships.
“I liked that we got to learn new types of robot codes and also that I got to have fun with my friends,” Biswas said. “We’ve become great friends. We have sleepovers, parties, get-togethers, it’s been so fun to work together with my friends.”
“We’ve known each other since fourth grade, that’s when we came up with the name for our team. We all really liked Star Wars then,” added Nair.
Now, the Jedi Knights will take their talents and friendships to Houston, Texas for the World Championships on April 20.
“We are so excited to go, we have never been to Texas before,” said Hegde. “We’re nervous, but ready! Go Cheshire!”