Team 2×4 was all smiles with their trophy after learning they were a Champion’s Finalist. This means they finished as the second or third best all around team at the competition. From left: Halee Williams, Timothy Walton, Bethany Walton, Mason Williams, and Evan Schneider. (Submitted photo)

FLL robotics team returns from championship with high praise

Team 2×4 proud to bring home Champion’s Finalist Award

Team 2×4, a local FIRST LEGO League robotics team with students from Clinton, Durand, and other nearby communities, recently returned from the American Robotics Open Championship, a national robotics competition held at American Dream in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Team 2×4 was honored to represent Wisconsin among 60 of the best teams in the country.

“I do not see the other teams as competition, just as potential friends,” shared Bethany Walton, reflecting on what it was like to compete with some of the best teams in the nation.

Accomplished inventor Dean Kamen of FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) in 1989 inspired an appreciation of science and technology in young people. Based in Manchester, New Hampshire, 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. Over 150,000 teams participated in FIRST LEGO League for students in fourth through eighth grades this season, with less than 3% getting to participate in post-season competitions.

The team had a strong judging session sharing their engineering process in building and coding their robot, core values, and how they iterated their Innovation Project “The Custom Carver” from a brainstormed idea to a fully functional model. The Custom Carver is the first custom moldable knife handle for beginning carvers. The judges loved getting a chance to mold a handle and were impressed that the team wrote an article for “Chip Chats,” the National Woodcarver Association’s Magazine.

Robot performance was a big area of growth this year for them, thanks to new coach Kent Walton. The team learned a lot about physics and forces, which helped them to design, build, and code very consistently performing robots, Giant and Gigantica. One of their goals at AROC was to record an official match over 400 points. They blew that away scoring 410, 425, and 425 in their three matches. They finished 11th in the robot game, which is the highest they have ever done in a post-season competition.

The team was one of only two asked to present for the entire competition. Over 1,000 people looked on as (from left) Bethany Walton, Evan Schneider, Halee Williams, Timothy Walton, and Mason Williams talked about The Custom Carver. (Submitted photo)

Team 2×4 was incredibly honored to be asked to give their presentation to the entire audience of around 1,000 people. Then, at the award ceremony, they were given the Champion’s Finalist Award. This award celebrates a team that embodies the FIRST LEGO League Challenge experience by fully embracing the Core Values while achieving excellence and innovation in Robot Performance, Robot Design, and the Innovation Project. Being a finalist means the team finished either second or third for the entire competition. Evan Schneider said, “We’ve never won a Champion’s Award at a post season tournament. It was very exciting!”

The team had such a great experience at AROC. Timothy Walton commented, “I’d go back in a heartbeat because its fun!”

“Collecting items from teams and winning award made for a great time.” according to Mason Williams.

Halee Williams added, “Everything was fun! I enjoyed teaching everyone about The Custom Carver and launching a successful run one in the robot game.”

There is only a short break before the next season starts on Tuesday, Aug. 6. Team 2×4 encourages families and school officials to contact them, as they’d love to help get more robotics teams in the stateline area. They are hosting an FLL Boot Camp, as well, on Aug. 6 to help new teams get a strong start.

Team 2×4 would like to thank all those companies and individuals who helped mentor and financially support their season and trip to NJ. They could not have done it without any of them. For those that would like to help sponsor the team, donations can be sent to Stateline Homeschool Robotics, P.O. Box 126, Clinton, WI 53525. Follow Team 2×4 FLL team #37,441 on Facebook or contact them at