Innovative Thinkers

Deer Canyon Elementary School’s robotics team, Aqua Mermaids, experienced great success at the FIRST LEGO League Southern California Championship at Legoland. Team members Shayna Mehta, Leanne Fan, Caitlin Zhang, and Arielle Clyne came up with an idea that provides a solution for detecting water leakage in houses and commercial areas, earning them first place in the project portion of the competition, as well as the Project Innovative Solution Award. The preliminary competition included approximately 500 other teams competing in Southern California, with 120 of those teams advancing to the final championship at Legoland over two days. The Aqua Mermaids were also nominated by competition judges to compete internationally as one of four Southern California teams in the Global Innovation Award competition in June.

FIRST LEGO League is an international competition for elementary and middle school students, in which they apply science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) concepts to solve a real-world scientific challenge. The 2017-18 challenge was hydrodynamics, giving teams the opportunity to learn all about water transportation, use, and disposal. Teams must also design, build, and program a robot to perform a series of missions in competition.

To prepare for the competition and choose their project ideas, the Aqua Mermaids – along with other FIRST LEGO teams at Deer Canyon – went on several fields trips throughout the year to learn more about the challenge topic. They visited the San Diego River Conservancy, Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant, and the San Vicente Dam, among others. The students also heard presentations from the City of San Diego Water Services Department, American Leak Detection, and Thunderbird WaterJet Company. Learn more about FIRST LEGO League at