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CMS FIRST LEGO League teams compete in virtual Alamogordo Qualifier

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) is important to encourage student engagement through project-based learning, applying critical and creative thinking skills to real-world applications. Studies show students in STEM classes tend to be more engaged in their learning, promoting curiosity throughout their education. A goal of education is to teach students to problem solve and become leaders, regardless of the discipline of education, and according to the US Department of Education, STEM helps grow these skills in our youth. It is projected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics 10.5% of all jobs in 2030 will be STEM field careers. While other careers are increasing near 8%, STEM careers have increased 11% in the last year alone.

For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST ©) was created in 1989 to assist in encouraging STEM throughout the world. There are 5 levels of FIRST programs- FIRST LEGO League Discovery (preschool), FIRST LEGO League Explore (kinder-3rd grade), FIRST LEGO League Challenge (4th-8th grades), FIRST Technical Challenge (7th-12th grades), and FIRST Robotics Challenge (9th-12th grades). Each program, students design and program a robot or moving model, associated with a theme. Students also discover real-world problems associated with the theme and design innovative solutions to the problem. Students also learn core values skills, including Discovery, Impact, Inclusion, Innovation, Teamwork, Fun, and Gracious Professionalism. FIRST is more than a robot.

Chaparral Middle School is currently participating in FIRST LEGO League Challenge (FLL) and FIRST Technical Challenge (FTC). Students involved in FLL have registered for STEM as their elective in 7th or 8th grade. Through class, Mrs. Sarah Cerra has led the students to explore the innovative project theme and design and program robots to achieve high scores on a mission field. Approximately 60 students participated in class. We received two Department of Defense grants through Holloman STEM Outreach to pay for team registration fees. Other team fees, including competition fees, have been raised through fundraising and generous donations. A total of 20 LEGO Spike Prime Robot Kits have been provided through 2 years of LEGO Foundation Grant Funding, which also provides extra field kits for practicing. 

Teams of no more than 10 students have the opportunity to first compete in class, and then become one of 6 teams that competed in the Alamogordo FLL Qualifier on January 11th-13th.  In competition, students spent 30 minutes with judges, presenting their innovative project ideas, core values, and robot design strategies, with a question/answer session following each presentation. Students recorded three 2.5-minute robot runs for submission of their robot games. Of the 6 teams that competed, 2 won top trophies and 3 were invited to the State Championship. The AIs won 2nd place Innovative Project and 2nd place Robot Games. The Penguin Engineers won 1st place Core Values. Both teams, plus the Typhoon Tigers will participate in the State Championship on Saturday, Feb. 26th virtually. The Tiger Champions and Desert Pharaohs were selected as 1st and 2nd alternates if other teams choose not to participate in State. FRC Team A.S.T.R.O. Vikings will be paying the state championship fees for the CMS teams. 

Penguin Engineers won 1st place Core Values     AIs won 2nd place Innovative Project and 2nd place Robot Games     Typhoon Tigers will participate in the State Championship

To participate in FTC, students were selected (based on behavior and interest) from the STEM classes to give up 2 mornings per week to build a robot and work on their Engineer Notebook. These students will compete in a hybrid competition with judging occurring virtually on Sunday, Feb. 27th and followed by a face to face robot session on March 5th in Socorro, NM.

Students of all ages can participate in a FIRST program in Alamogordo. For more information on how to get your child on a team or how to start a team, please contact Mrs. Sarah Cerra (NMFLL Teams Coordinator, or check out and

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