Mountain Views News, Combined Edition Saturday, April 20, 2024

MVNews this week:  Page 8



Mountain View News Saturday, April 6, 2024 


Alverno Heights Academy

200 N. Michillinda Sierra Madre, Ca. 91024

(626) 355-3463 

Head of School: Joanne Harabedian

E-mail address:

Arcadia Christian School

1900 S. Santa Anita Avenue Arcadia, CA 91006

Preschool - TK - 8th Grade


Principal: Cindy Harmon


Arcadia High School

180 Campus Drive Arcadia, CA 91007

Phone: (626) 821-8370, Principal: Brent Forsee

Arroyo Pacific Academy

41 W. Santa Clara St. Arcadia, Ca, 

(626) 294-0661 Principal: Phil Clarke

E-mail address:

Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary School

Ms. Rose Navarro, Principal

2660 East Orange Grove Blvd.

Pasadena, Ca 91107


Barnhart School

240 W. Colorado Blvd Arcadia, Ca. 91007

(626) 446-5588 

Head of School: Tonya Beilstein

Kindergarten - 8th grade


Bethany Christian School

93 N. Baldwin Ave. Sierra Madre, Ca. 91024

(626) 355-3527 

Preschool-TK-8th Grade

Principal: Jonathon Hawes

website: www.

Clairbourn School

8400 Huntington Drive

San Gabriel, CA 91775

Phone: 626-286-3108 ext. 172

FAX: 626-286-1528


Foothill Oaks Academy

822 E. Bradbourne Ave., Duarte, CA 91010

(626) 301-9809

Principal: Nancy Lopez

Frostig School

971 N. Altadena Drive Pasadena, CA 91107

(626) 791-1255

Head of School: Jenny Janetzke


The Gooden School

192 N. Baldwin Ave. Sierra Madre, Ca. 91024

(626) 355-2410 

Head of School, Jo-Anne Woolner


High Point Academy

1720 Kinneloa Canyon Road 

Pasadena, Ca. 91107 

Head of School: Gary Stern 626-798-8989


La Salle College Preparatory

3880 E. Sierra Madre Blvd. Pasadena, Ca. 

(626) 351-8951 website:

Interim Principal Ernest Siy

Monrovia High School

325 East Huntington Drive, Monrovia, CA 91016 

(626) 471-2800 Principal Darvin Jackson


Odyssey Charter School

725 W. Altadena Dr. Altadena, Ca. 91001

(626) 229-0993 Head of School: Lauren O’Neill


Pasadena High School

2925 E. Sierra Madre Blvd. Pasadena, Ca. 

(626) 396-5880 Principal: Mathew Kodama


St. Rita Catholic School

322 N. Baldwin Ave. Sierra Madre, Ca. 91024

Principal: Adela Solis (626) 355-6114


Sierra Madre Elementary School

141 W. Highland Ave, Sierra Madre, Ca. 91024

(626) 355-1428 

Principal: Dr. Jodi Marchesso

E-mail address:

Sierra Madre Middle School 

160 N. Canon Sierra Madre, Ca. 91024

(626) 836-2947 Principal: Garrett Newsom

E-mail address:

Walden School

74 S San Gabriel Blvd

Pasadena, CA 91107 (626) 792-6166

Weizmann Day School

1434 N. Altadena Dr. Pasadena, Ca. 91107

(626) 797-0204

Lisa Feldman: Head of School

Wilson Middle School

300 S. Madre St. Pasadena, Ca. 91107

(626) 449-7390 Principal: Ruth Esseln

E-mail address:

Pasadena Unified School District

351 S. Hudson Ave., Pasadena, Ca. 91109

(626) 396-3600 Website:

Arcadia Unified School District

234 Campus Dr., Arcadia, Ca. 91007

(626) 821-8300 Website:

Monrovia Unified School District

325 E. Huntington Dr., Monrovia, Ca. 91016

(626) 471-2000 


Duarte Unified School District

1620 Huntington Dr., Duarte, Ca. 91010




by AUSD Digital Communications Interns Chloe Wong and Alysia Shang

The Code Breakers and their Champion Finalist trophy. From left to right: Brandon Liu, Ethan Chen, 
Aidan Tan, Jiaxuan (Ocean) Xu. 

ARCADIA-- Four middle school students from the Arcadia Unified School District—collectively 
known as the Code Breakers—have been recognized as Co-Champions of the California Southern 
FIRST LEGO League (FLL) Championship. Dana Middle School 7th-grader Brandon Liu and 
Foothills Middle School 8th-graders Ethan Chen, Aidan Tan, and Jiaxuan (Ocean) Xu will soon 
travel to Houston to compete in the 2024 FLL World Championship on April 16 through 20 and will 
next head to Austral-ia for the FLL Asian Pacific Open in July. Team Code Breakers is one of only two 
Southern California FLL teams that qualified to advance to the World Championship in Houston 
and will face off against top teams from across the country and around the globe. 

To advance this far, the team had previously received the Champion Award at the FLL Qualifying 
Tournament and Regional Tournament. Organized by For Inspiration and Recognition of Science 
and Technology (FIRST), FLL challenges elementary and mid-dle school students to solve real-world 
and scientific challenges.

“[FLL] at first glance is a robotics competition,” said Chen, who serves as the team’s primary coder. 
“We build LEGO robots, and then we compete with them and score as many points as possible. But 
FLL has a little more meaning to it besides robotics.” 

Each year, the competition features a central theme. According to FIRST, for the 2023-2024 season, 
the theme of “MASTERPIECE” challenges students to “imagine and innovate new ways to create and 
communicate art.” One critical component is the Innovation Project, where teams identify a real-life 
issue and present a concrete solu-tion. In this sense, FLL doesn’t just encourage scientific pursuit—it 
creates the next generation of changemakers. 

“Our Innovation Project helps the autistic community,” said Liu, who specializes in consulting and 
outreach for the team. “We created Smart Sounds—noise-canceling headphones with an adaptive 
feature that adjusts volume based on heart rate.” 

The idea for the Innovation Project was inspired by Tan’s childhood and growing up “with two of 
[his] closest friends being autistic.” 

The team previously paired up with autistic individuals in peer one-on-one groups, and partnered 
with the organization WOW! That’s STEM to engage in various STEM activities, like making simple 
wooden catapults. 

Liu recounted being paired with a third grader in one of the activities. “He was so ex-cited when we 
launched the catapult and it lit me up.” 

The Code Breakers want to continue with these activities; after all, the main goal of their Innovation 
Project is to promote inclusivity. 

The prototype, created by Tan, is currently in its second iteration. The Smart Sounds headphones 
feature an amplifier, two microphone and speaker jacks, and a heart rate detector. The “two 
microphones capture sounds” and “[play] it through the speakers on the inside,” explained Tan. 

If the outside volume exceeds a set threshold, then noise-canceling automatically takes effect. The 
prototype costs approximately $116; however, if a future pilot study demonstrated the headphones’ 
positive impact on the autistic community, insurance would potentially make the product more 

Xu, responsible for research and statistics, stated that they don’t plan to limit the pro-ject to the 
competition alone, intending for the headphones to be “implant[ed] in the real world.” For members 
of the autistic community who are sensitive to everyday noise, Smart Sounds could be revolutionary. 

At FLL, the Innovation Project accounted for 25% of the team’s overall score. But the Code Breakers 
had to excel in other technical areas, as well, such as Robot Game Per-formance and Robot Design. 
Game Performance assesses a robot’s performance when asked to complete certain missions. Robot 
Design evaluates the team’s overall engi-neering and coding skills. The Code Breakers have designed 
two robots: EV3 and Spike Prime. 

Although Spike Prime doesn’t have the ease of operation and powerful motors of EV3, the team 
prefers Spike Prime for its consistency in competition. The robot is split into various attachments 
to prepare for the 16 various missions in the competition, which test a wide range of functions. The 
team has named each attachment, affectionately titling one as Sir Lancelot.

“Our robot completes all the missions,” said Chen. “All the attachments are modular. They slide on 
and off really easily. We keep the [robotic] frames from last season, but we update all the function 

This will likely be the Code Breakers’ last FLL season, as the members are close to aging out of the 
competition. The team looks forward to progressing to higher-level robotics by joining FIRST Tech 
Challenge and FIRST Robotics Competition teams, which use more advanced coding programs and 
materials. The students are also eager to continue improving the Smart Sounds prototype, exploring 
AI options to help discern wanted and unwanted sounds along with “adding a sound ceiling to 
minimize outside noises,” according to Xu. 

With a large span of future ambitions, ranging from becoming a transplant surgeon to engineering 
robots for space travel to working in finance, these students are enthusiastic to embrace their futures. 
No matter what they choose to do, their experience as Code Breakers has equipped them with many 
life lessons, including resilience and gracious professionalism. Chen explained the latter as being 
“professional at losing and gracious at winning.”

The Code Breakers are enthusiastic about sharing their journey in FLL with their community. They 
showcased their robot and innovative project at Holly Avenue and Highland Oaks Elementary 
Schools’ STEM nights in Arcadia. Recently, they volunteered as referees and shared their FLL 
experiences with rookie FLL teams at off-season FIRST events, including the FLL Cup and Rookie 
Invitational at Compton Unified School District. 

As the Code Breakers prepare for upcoming competitions, they are fine-tuning their robot and 
continuing progress on the third iteration of the Smart Sounds prototype. Reflecting on their 
experience, the Code Breakers—and their parents—are undeniably proud of how far they have 
advanced. Already, the team’s exceptional performance has exceeded their parents’ expectations. 

“It’s all a part of the journey, and I’m super proud,” exclaimed one parent. 

“In FLL, it's all about persevering […] even through all your troubles,” concluded Liu. “Always take it 
one step at a time and never give up.”

The Code Breakers’ two robots, EV3 and Spike Prime.

The Code Breakers observe their robot during Game Performance.

The Code Breakers proudly display their trophies at an FLL competition.

Mountain Views News 80 W Sierra Madre Blvd. No. 327 Sierra Madre, Ca. 91024 Office: 626.355.2737 Fax: 626.609.3285 Email: Website:

Mountain Views News 80 W Sierra Madre Blvd. No. 327 Sierra Madre, Ca. 91024 Office: 626.355.2737 Fax: 626.609.3285 Email: Website: