Dedicated Innovators

A team of eighth graders from Carmel Valley Middle School won the first place Innovative Solution Award in the project category on the first day of the FIRST LEGO League Southern California Championship at Legoland. The preliminary competition included approximately 500 other teams competing in Southern California, with 120 of those teams advancing to the final championship at Legoland over two days. Team members Maya Rosenbaum, Kai Scott, Meera Sharma, Kyle Shyffer, and Olivia Wu, better known as Team Outside the Blocks, were also nominated by judges to compete internationally as one of four Southern California teams in the Global Innovation Award competition in June.

“I think FLL is a great and fun opportunity for kids to work on their own ideas and learn about teamwork.”

FIRST LEGO League is an international competition for elementary and middle school students, in which they apply science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) concepts to solve a real-world scientific challenge. The 2017-18 challenge was hydrodynamics, giving teams the opportunity to learn all about water transportation, use, and disposal. Teams must also design, build, and program a robot to perform a series of missions in competition.

In preparation for their project, Outside the Blocks spoke with water filtration experts and organizations that serve areas that have difficulty finding and maintaining clean water supplies. The team then created a modular water filter prototype that could filter out bacteria, viruses, and heavy metals using local resources that is simple to maintain and cost-effective. The students spent time over the summer working on their prototype as well as the LEGO robot. “I think FLL is a great and fun opportunity for kids to work on their own ideas and learn about teamwork,” said team member Olivia Wu. Learn more about FIRST LEGO League at