Winterhaven Eighth Graders Win Innovation Project Award for Research

Photo by Winterhaven Robotics

The Amazing Walri, a team of six eight graders from Winterhaven School in SE Portland, bested 57 other teams to win the first place Innovation Project Award for Research at the 2020 Intel Oregon FIRST® LEGO® League State Championship in January.

Competing teams were challenged to build and program a Lego robot to complete as many missions as possible in 2-1/2 minutes. Teams also had to identify a problem with a building or public space in their community, design a solution, share the solution with others and refine it. 

At the tournament, each team had to present their project during the course of a five-minute presentation to a panel of judges.

The Amazing Walri’s project, The Crossing Conundrum, concentrated on a cost-effective and efficient means of improving interactions between the transport of goods and the movement of people at the most problematic of rail crossings in SE Portland.

As anyone who lives in SE Portland is all too aware of, the train crossing at SE 11th just south of Division is problematic. Freight trains often stop there, blocking the intersection for up to two hours.

The team’s proposed solution consisted of an app to alert people when a train is stopped on the tracks before reaching the intersection, as well as flashing signs strategically placed on nearby streets to help drivers avoid getting stuck. 

The Winterhaven eighth graders: Eli Bates, Calvin Beall, Hunter Boyer, Jenna McComas (pictured), Frances Springgate and Korbin Towne were coached by parents Erinn Bates, JJ Heldmann and Robert Towne. 

The team was mentored by the Cleveland High School robotics team who hosted a practice tournament for several SE Portland teams at Creston School. 

For more information about the team’s project, contact 

More information about FIRST® LEGO® at

Winterhaven Eighth Graders Win Innovation Project Award for Research

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