Robot girls go to state

HARLINGEN — Vivian Garza threw her arms up in a victory dance.

“I feel awesome!” declared the 10-year-old robotics aficionado at Rodriguez Elementary.

She and the other all-girls robotics team were still celebrating their success last weekend in the FIRST Lego League RGV competition. The five girls in Team Tiger performed so well at the competition at Memorial Middle School they advanced to state.

“We’re excited for the next competition,” said Tiffany Guillen, 10, another team member.

Team Tiger was only formed this year out of the newly-emerging STEM program. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. This was their first year, obviously, of competing. Only eight teams out of 24 qualified to compete March 12 at the Alamo FIRST Lego League West Division Qualifying Tournament.

“I am very proud of them,” said Sadorah Anderson, fourth grade teacher and robotics coach.

“They have been working hard since the beginning,” Anderson said. “They are dedicated, they are hardworking, they are persistent.”

They were also extremely enthusiastic about the coming competition, for which they will be practicing every day until they head for the contest in San Antonio.

“We really want to go to San Antonio,” Vivian said excitedly.

The young ladies explained in matter-of-fact terms what they did at the competition.

“We had to do our core values,” said Madysen Gonzales, 11.

“We had to explain about it and what it means,” she said.

Those core values of FIRST League include the importance of teamwork while searching for real world solutions.

They also had to make a presentation in response to the FIRST Lego League Challenge. FIRST challenges participants each year to solve a real-world problem. This year’s Challenge is ANIMAL ALLIES, and the girls selected the topic of helping tigers avoid extinction.

“We had to do a project about how to help the tigers and how tigers can help us,” said Mariel Martinez, 10.

They presented their robotics missions in the afternoon. They presented four missions. They had their most difficulty with one they called the dog.

“It would get to the fridge and get stuck,” Vivian said, gesturing to the robot and a plastic refrigerator made of Legos. She and Tiffany explained the robot, which sat next to the edge of the playing field, would try to circle the small plastic object. Just as it began to circle back, it would stop.

This called into play a crucial element in the challenges.

“You have to put the robot in the right spot,” Vivian said.

She and Tiffany practiced the shark for many long hours until they’d perfected their mission, and their hard work paid off. Anderson was excited to receive the news late in the afternoon when the girls had returned to their families.

“I sent them a message,” she said, remembering the moment with a smile.

On the other end, the girls were ready to celebrate with their families.

Importance of teamwork

The FIRST LEGO League Core 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.


Vivian Garza, 10

Tiffany Guillen, 10

Madysen Gonzales, 11

Mariel Martinez, 10

Angelina Trevino,


Sadorah Anderson

Julie Walther