By Tracey Leong

MARRIOTTSVILLE, Md. (WJZ) — A group of Maryland middle school students will be representing the state in a big innovative way.

Chapelgate Christian Academy took home top honors last week in a Lego robot building competition.

This is the first time Chapelgate has taken first place at the competition, beating out 70 other teams to represent Maryland at the world championships.

Fueled by a passion for technology and engineering, the clever young students designed robot, Spade, which earned them top honors in the Maryland FIRST Lego League championship on February 25.

FIRST was developed by New Hampshire Inventor Dean Kamen, meaning “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology” and was geared to help young people pursue opportunities in STEM fields.

“This team was told the judges observed all elements of future software designers,” says Theresa Jahng, the robotics team coach.

Representing some of the brightest minds in the state, they are the first team to win from Chapelgate.

“I was surprised, I expected third, but did not expect first at tall,” says 7th grade student Eric Spisz.

These humble winners are now headed to the world championship, where they’ll be up against more than 40 other countries.

“It is a lot of pressure, but on the other hand we just want to have fun, if we got through worlds we can get through states too,” says 8th grade student Brynn Laberge.

In addition to having fun, their coach tells WJZ it was also about team building skills and even engaging with other teams to collaborate and grow.

“Caring for others and not getting so caught up in the competition, or forgetting its not about winning, its about the experience,” Jahng says.

The team is now preparing for the world championships in St. Louis, Missouri at the end of April.

The team is welcoming any donations to help fund their trip.


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