Carmel Valley Ninja Builders receive first place for Lego project at Southern California Championship


Carmel Valley sixth graders earned first place in the First Lego League (FLL) Southern California Championship Dec. 6 at Legoland.

The Ninja Builders, a group of friends who are all musicians, received first place for the most innovative solution in the project category for their idea to improve learning music by developing an app to enhance a musician’s practice experience.

The app allows music students to log practice time, collaborate remotely with a teacher and earn rewards for meeting practice goals. As part of their research, the group presented their idea to two of their instructors, Frank Glasson, of the Solana Beach School District Band, and Mark Weed, of the Boys & Girls Club Youth Arts Academy.

The Ninja Builders — John Aste, Christopher Caligiuri, Sean Cooney, Mason Holst, Woocheol Kim, Nathanael Tran and Nathan Wu — also performed a jazz number to kick off the afternoon rally held during the FLL Southern California Championship.

The FLL Challenge is a three-part competition. This year’s theme was “World Class Learning.” The first part of the competition required teams to pick a topic of interest and identify ways to improve learning the topic. The second part is a robot challenge requiring the team to build and program an autonomous robot to complete missions highlighting the many ways people learn in today’s global classroom. The third part is to demonstrate core values emphasizing teamwork, cooperation, gracious professionalism and friendly competition.