Flying Penguins named first place champs at KC Regional FIRST LEGO League competition

Kansas City, Mo. (February 25, 2017)–The Flying Penguins, a neighborhood team from Overland Park, Kan., took home the top honors from the FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL) Regional Championship at Metropolitan Community College’s Business & Technology Campus on Saturday, Feb. 25.

The competition included more than 400 students in fourth through eighth grades representing 45 teams from the metro and the region. The teams advanced from a field of 200+ teams through five regional qualifier tournaments in November and December 2016, including a new tournament in Columbia, Mo.

With adult coaches to guide them, FLL teams apply science, engineering and math concepts—plus a big dose of imagination—to develop solutions to real-world challenges. They also design, build and program LEGO MINDSTORMS®-based robots to perform autonomous “missions” on a playing field. Along the way, they develop critical thinking, team-building and presentation skills.

This season’s FIRST® LEGO® League Animal Allies Challenge sent teams on a mission to identify ways people and animals interact and then design a solution that makes the interaction better for people, animals—or both. Facilitating FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) programs in the Kansas City region is a primary way KC STEM Alliance brings STEM programming to students outside of the classroom.

The Flying Penguins and the second place champions, the S.W.A.T. Bots (a team of friends based in Kansas City), each will advance to the FIRST World Festival competition in April.

KC Regional Awards


  • 1st Place Champion: Team 934, the Flying Penguins, a neighborhood group from Overland Park.
  • 2nd Place Champion: Team 17486, the S.W.A.T. Bots, a group of friends/family from Kansas City, Mo.

The Flying Penguins also took home the Global Innovation Award for exemplary project solutions. Each FIRST® LEGO® League region nominates one team to move to the next round of competition, which takes place in June in Washington, D.C.
Core Value Awards

The Inspiration Award celebrates a team that displays extraordinary enthusiasm and spirit. The 2017 winner is Team 17613 Triple B from Harmony Elementary in the Blue Valley School District, Overland Park, Kan.

The Teamwork Award​ recognizes a team that accomplishes more together than they could as individuals through shared goals, strong communication, effective problem solving and excellent time management. The award went to Team 15919, the STEM Stallions of St. Patrick School in Kansas City, Kan.

The Gracious Professionalism Award recognizes a team whose members show each other and other teams respect at all times. They recognize that both friendly competition and mutual gain are possible on and off the playing field. Team 24644, the 3 Creeks Robotics from Columbia, Mo., earned the 2017 title.

Robot Design Awards

In this category, judges look for teams whose work combines robust mechanical design, excellent programming and a sound strategy, resulting in an innovative robot.

Mechanical Design recognizes a team that designs and develops a mechanically sound robot that is durable, efficient and highly capable of performing the challenge missions. This year’s award went to Team 15968, the BlitzBotz of Independence, Mo.

The Programming Award recognizes a team that uses outstanding programming principles, including clear, concise and reusable code that allows the robot to perform challenge missions autonomously and consistently. The winner is Team 20868, the Octopi of Christa McAuliffe Elementary in Lenexa, Kan., which is part of the Shawnee Mission School District.

The Strategy & Innovation Award recognizes a team that uses solid engineering practices and a well-developed strategy to design and build an innovative, high performing robot. Team 16046, The Three Muskebots Group of Richmond, Mo., received the 2017 award.

The Robot Performance Award goes to the team whose overall package of robot design, programming, strategy, and teamwork helped it to achieve the competition goal of acquiring more points than any other team. With a score of 174, the award went to Team 25139, the Astro Circuits of Christa McAuliffe Elementary in Lenexa, Kan.

Project Awards

The competition includes project presentations to show that individuals can make a difference by researching a problem, then contributing ideas and solutions to real-world issues.

The Research Award goes to the team that uses diverse resources to formulate an in-depth and comprehensive understanding of the problem they identified. The winner is Team 26855 Super Nova of Lakewood Middle School in the Blue Valley School District, Overland Park, Kan., for their work on controlling Asian carp populations.

Innovative Solutions recognizes a solution that is exceptionally well-considered and creative, with good potential to solve the problem researched. Team 26502, the J. Gordon Low Resistance Girl Scout Troop 1987 from Gardner, Kan., received this award.

The Presentation​ Award, which recognizes a team that effectively communicates the problem they have identified and their proposed solution to both the judges and other potential supporters, went to Team 7868, the Show-Me Legos of Grain Valley, Mo.

Judges Award

During the course of competition, the judges may encounter teams whose unique efforts, performance or dynamics merit recognition. Some teams have a story that sets them apart in a noteworthy way. Sometimes a team is so close to winning an award that the judges choose to give special recognition to the team. Judges Awards allow the freedom to recognize remarkable teams that stand out for reasons other than the Core Award categories. The 2017 Judges Award went to Team 6988, the Fantastic LEGO Ladies of Shepard Boulevard Elementary School in Columbia, Mo.

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Inventor Dean Kamen founded FIRST in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. Based in Manchester, N.H., FIRST designs accessible, innovative programs to build self-confidence, knowledge and life skills while motivating young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology, and engineering (STEM). Kansas City FIRST, the local program, hosts the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) and supports FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) for high school students, FIRST LEGO League (FLL ) for 9 to 14 year olds, and Junior FIRST LEGO League (Jr.FLL) for 6 to 9 year olds. To learn more about Kansas City FIRST or US FIRST and its programs, go to

About KC STEM Alliance

KC STEM Alliance is a collaborative network of educators, business partners and organizations that inspires interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math careers to generate a robust force of related professionals for our community.