Country School Eighth Grader Wins Regional Robotics Competition, Creates Coyote Sighting App

New Canaan Country School eighth grader Arjun Dayal won top honors at two Westchester First Lego League (FLL) Competitions. As part of the competition, he also created a coyote sighting app that will benefit his local community.
His team, Robochaps, won first place in four categories—robot performance, robot design, project idea and team core values—at the Hudson Valley qualifying tournament held in Tarrytown, NY on Jan. 28. This qualified the Robochaps to advance to the national FLL semi-finals. There, they won first place in two of the four categories, just shy of what was need to qualify for the finals. 
 
As part of the competition, the team’s robot was required to perform several challenges of increasing difficulty. The team worked two hours a day for nearly three months to get their robots ready.
 
“It may sound strange, but I really like the chaos of robotics and problem solving,” said Arjun when asked what he enjoys most about robotics competitions. “You have to push through until you get past a hurdle.”
 
They also had to come up with a solution to a problem in the local community based on this year’s FLL theme “Animal Allies.” Arjun and his teammates created the prototype of an app that would alert people of coyote sightings called “Coexisting Safely with Coyotes in the Urban Areas.”
 
“The theme required us to find a way to help animals and humans coexist peacefully,” said Arjun. “We chose coyotes as our project as they are local and affect our residents.”
 
Since the competition, Arjun has taken the lead on building the Coyote sighting app using Xcode and Objective C, computer languages that he has taught himself.  The team recently met with the Chappaqua School Superintendent to discuss the app and how to promote it within the local community.
 
Arjun credits his love of robotics to his sixth grade teacher Mr. Fraser Randolph, who leads the Middle School robotics team. “Through this club, my interest became a passion.”
 
“Arjun is a hard working guy,” says Mr. Randolph “He puts a lot of time into his work and learns from his mistakes.”
 
Mr. Randolph remembers Arjun’s performance at a Middle School ROBOnanza! competition. “I remember one time, he had to reengineer a robot right on the spot during the middle of the competition.  He worked coolly, calmly and arrived in time with a new device. That robot helped us win!”
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