Monday, May 14, 2012

L is for Lego League

Normally when I blog, I try to write about something I'm very familiar with.  Today's L in Ben and Me's Alphabet Challenge is actually something I want to learn more about myself.  A few weeks ago, Schnickelfritz and I went on an adventure (code of field trip) to the FIRST Robotics Championships in St. Louis.  Although the glitz and glamor went to the 14-18 year olds building basketball shooting robots, there was a minor leagues version for up and coming programmers and engineers.  FIRST's  Lego League is a world wide competition for 9-14 year olds.

Each Annual Challenge is made of three parts: The Project, the Robot Game, and Core Values.  I'll share what I've discovered about the 2012 Challenge: Food Factor (each year has a new theme).

The Project

The students had to:
  • Identify a problem associated with food safety.
  • Research a solution that is either a new idea or improvement on something already being done.
  • Create an innovative solution for safely harvesting, transporting, preparing, or storing certain foods.
  • Share their solution with their community
  • Make a 5 minute presentation before a panel of judges
Sounds like their logging some serious Language Arts hours to this home schooling mom!  Research skills, public speaking, perhaps marketing, graphic design etc.  I didn't get to see any presentations--I believe there all done behind closed doors so the kids don't have to deal with stage fright. 

The Robot Game

Each team has about 10 weeks to build and program a Lego Mindstorm robot that can navigate the playing field and perform tasks: drop off loads, pick other loads up, turn a dial, pull a wagon etc.  Each task has a point value based on difficulty and distance from the base corner.  I believe there are 300 points available in a 2 minute 30 second match.  Here's the kicker--the kids have to design, build, and program their robots themselves.  They have to learn about sensors and a programming language.  Coaches are encouraged to help students experiment to discover what works best but they're strictly hands off the robot.  All decisions are to be made by the kids.

Core Values

I couldn't say this better than they do themselves, so I'm copying this from the FIRST Lego League website.

The FLL Core Values are the cornerstones of the FLL program. They are among the fundamental elements that distinguish FLL from other programs of its kind. By embracing the Core Values, participants learn that friendly competition and mutual gain are not separate goals, and that helping one another is the foundation of teamwork.

  • We are a team.
  • We do the work to find solutions with guidance from our coaches and mentors.
  • We know our coaches and mentors don't have all the answers; we learn together.
  • We honor the spirit of friendly competition.
  • What we discover is more important than what we win.
  • We share our experiences with others.
  • We display Gracious Professionalism® and Coopertition® in everything we do.
  • We have FUN!

  • I'm attending an informational meeting to learn how to coach a Lego League team myself, so I hope this is this first of many FLL posts.  In the meantime I'll keep blogging through the alphabet.

    1 comment:

    Marcy Crabtree said...

    my son would love this. I need to check into it further as well!

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