Local students headed to FIRST Lego League World Festival

Team C.A.R.T. is made up of local students Chris Zheng, Derek Kang, Kayley Xu, Tejas Karthik, Vishwas Tattala and Alex Tang.
(Ken Zhong)

A team of six local students won the 2022 FLL Lego League championship, besting 500 other teams and winning the chance to compete in the World Festival competition in Houston in April. The C.A.R.T. team who will represent Southern California in the international level competition is comprised of students Chris Zheng, Derek Kang, Kayley Xu, Tejas Karthik, Vishwas Tattala and Alex Tang.

Chris and Kayley are local Del Mar eighth graders at The Bishop’s School. Alex is a seventh grader at Mesa Verde Middle School, Derek is an eighth grader at Oak Valley Middle School and Tejas and Vishwas are seventh graders at Thurgood Marshall Middle School. The team is coached by Del Mar parent Ken Zhong.

For the record:

7:18 p.m. Jan. 17, 2023Kayley Xu’s name was incorrectly spelled as Kayley Zu.

The team formed three years ago from a group of neighborhood friends and classmates. Time was a huge challenge for the team this year, working around their busy schedules to dedicate hours of hard work to perfect their project, which included a 3D animated video.

“Most challenges we’ve faced were around the robot game/design, but we usually manage to work them out by debugging and troubleshooting,” Kayley said.

This season’s challenge was to make power or energy generation and implementation sustainable and green, either by improving on an existing method or creating a new idea. The team’s championship-winning innovation project was a Micro-Hydropower system, which uses wastewater from appliances, sinks and showers to generate electricity in a home or high-rise building to spin a turbine and generate electricity.

“The implementation of this idea is also quite simple, as it can be combined into construction designs, or added to high-rise buildings for a one-time, fairly cheap investment,” Chris said. “The combined energy generated from the whole community is large and is where this idea really shines.”

Teamwork was an important factor of the team’s success, Alex said. Chris said each team member brought their own strength—some are more proficient at graphic design, others at programming, robot design or research.

“The contribution of every team member was instrumental in solid robot design, improvised attachments and a solid innovation idea,” Chris said.

Tejas said he enjoyed working and learning together with his teammates and having fun at the same time.

“When we program a robot to do a certain mission, it may fail a couple of times and may not work but after a while, when it finally accomplishes the mission the level of satisfaction touches the sky,” Chris said. “This makes us forget the amount of time we work, but the way we finish the work and how we work the result is always fun. “

Derek said his favorite part about FLL is learning about a variety of helpful skills in life, everything from coding to animation to public speech.

“I love how FLL is really hands-on,” Kaylee said. “Whether it’s building robots, running robot game runs, or building an innovation project prototype, everyone always gets to participate.”

Leading up to the April competition, team C.A.R.T. will continue to practice hard, improve the robot so it can multitask more efficiently and perfect their robot runs. Chris said they also hope to get new team uniforms that look better on the field and add interactive experiences in their pit station as a way to stand out.

“We will continue to challenge ourselves and remain optimistic about everything that happens,” Vishwas said. “We will learn from our mistakes and aim for success at Houston.”