CAMP DARBY -- For the first time ever, students of Livorno Elementary and Middle School took part in the Department of Defense Education Activity-Europe 2017 Robotics Challenge.

The competition, conducted over the Internet March 21, connected students here with all other European installations.

Eli Alvis, seventh-grader; Tayler Hamilton, sixth-grader; and Carly Exum, fourth-grader, represented Darby in the Lego league competition.

"Animal Allies" was the theme of this year's Lego league, wherein students were provided all necessary materials to build an arena and a robot. The test: they have to work together and calibrate the robot to perform requested challenges.

"Students have two and a half minutes to complete as many challenges possible," said Shawn Hamilton, judge and coach of the Darby team.

Different objectives get a specified number of points, according to Hamilton. Therefore, students had to develop strategies to score as many points as possible.

"I tried to help them (the students) by giving ideas on how to reach their objectives. They showed real interest and good skills," said Hamilton.

Despite being newcomers to the competition, Darby students distinguished themselves for the incredible support provided to each other as a team.

"It was very challenging," said Alvis, who presented his "Nerdy Cardboard Salad" project. "I performed not as well as I thought I had, but it was fun and I learned a lot (about) time management."

The second project presented by Tayler Hamilton and Carly Exum was "The Emoji Engineers."
"The hardest part was to calculate how many rotations were needed to get to some point, and also trying to get the food out of the building," said Tayler Hamilton.

The children worked long hours after school to complete this project, but their enthusiasm was contagious, said Stephanie Boyanowsky, DoDDS teacher.