NEW YORK – A private robotics team consisting of six pre-teen Indian American girls from Jericho, New York, won the First Lego League World Championship during the week of April 27 in Detroit, Michigan.
The TechnoQueens – a group of 9- and 10-year-olds, consisting of Ria Bhatia, Risha Bansal, Falak Doshi, Aarna Tyagi, Amneet Kaur and Sahana Patel, competed in the Junior (ages 7 to 10) category where they were to build and program a model out of Legos with motors and sensors that would help with the filtration of water.
Before winning the World Championship, the TechnoQueens first beat about 70 to 90 regional teams in Long Island and then proceeded to represent the U.S. at the World Expo which consisted of 60 teams from around the world, out of 16,000, and they finally won against China and Taiwan.
With this win, the team will now progress to the next level for children, ages 10 to 14.
“The win was exciting because we all worked together as one and accomplished something that we thought we wouldn’t be able to,” Ria, one of the team members and the daughter of coach Rohit Bhatia, told Desi Talk, in a phone interview.
In order to build their winning AquaTech Lego model, the girls spent two hours each week, researching, learning, building and talking to various water experts, at Bhatia’s home.
“Since the girls are from different schools, we cannot be called a school team. So I had no choice but to keep our robotics meetings once a week at home,” Bhatia told Desi Talk, in a phone interview, adding that he is only allowed to have no more than six girls on the team.
The girls also visited various water authorities in Long Island to learn about water transportation and filtration processes so they would be fully prepared for this year’s Aqua Adventure theme at the World Expo.
The team also met with various water experts, including water engineers, hydrologists, CEOs, and R&D experts in the field of water and enjoyed presenting their solutions to schools, local universities, and museums.
“We built the AquaTech model and came up with six solutions to bring clean water to villages, and one of them was to build a house with a slanted roof instead of a flat roof. That way rain water can be collected faster. After all, rain water is the most fresh water,” Ria added.
The TechnoQueens also won the ‘Research & Discovery’ Award for their learning journey around Project Solution ‘VillAquaTech,’ which brings clean water to ideal and remote village communities throughout the world.
The TechnoQueens decided to partner with WaterAid, as part of the People Pipeline Campaign, and have raised around $3,000 to bring clean water to and build toilets for school children in Nicaragua.
When asked ‘why not India?’ Ria replied, “many people already have clean water there,” to which her father clarified, “Unfortunately, WaterAid only has access to bring clean water to certain countries excluding India, although, we have already made a donation to help bring clean water to a couple of villages in India.”
Each year the First Lego League has a theme on which teams base and build their model off of.
Next year the TechnoQueens are eager to lift off into space with First Lego League’s ‘Into the Orbit’ theme, for which the team wants to come up with a “bigger project and better model.”
The team’s overall experience at this year’s competition was amazing, “since we got to meet other teams and learn about their projects as well as meet new people and make new friends,” Aarna Tyagi, another team member, told Desi Talk, in a phone interview.
“The girls are from two different schools in Jericho, Jackson Elementary and Cantiague Elementary, and they have become best friends since we started the team back in August 2017,” Bhatia added.
“At these weekly meetings, we solve many problems. We work with our partners and build models to find a way to bring clean water to these villages,” Ria told Desi Talk.
Besides solving problems and building models, the girls said that they like to celebrate and have fun at their robotics meetings.
Their favorite subjects in school are math, science, English and art, and in their free time the TechnoQueens like to read books, perform gymnastics, sing and dance.