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FIRST and LEGO — STEM leads the way by Nathan Yuan

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They say that the roots of education are bitter, but for students participating in FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL), their exploration of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) ideas are as sweet as ever. FLL is an international competition organized by FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition for Science and Technology) and LEGO for children from ages at 9-14*.

According to the official FLL website, their objectives are as follows: “1. [to] make children and youngsters enthusiastic about science and technology”, “2. to equip the participants with the idea of team spirit” and “3. to encourage children and youngsters to solve complex tasks in a creative way.” In order to do this, FLL challenges children in four areas, “Robot Game”, “Robot Design”, “Project”, and “Core Values”.

Robotics plays a key role with FLL. Before the tournaments, teams build a robot based using the LEGO Mindstorms® systems. These robots built by the students will perform autonomously for 2 ½ minutes and try to finish as many predetermined missions/tasks on a 5×5 meter table. “Robot Game” accounts for 40% of a team’s score.

The “Robot Design” portion of FLL is worth 20% of the score. Teams are tested on their understanding of their robotics strategy. These questions may include how teams divided the work or how they invested their time in building their robot.

Along with the technology aspect of FLL, teams are encouraged to explore scientific and engineering fields of science in the “Project” area of the competition. Teams are required to explore a current problem affecting society relating to the yearly theme. They will create their own original solution to the problem by either creating something completely new, using an existing tool in a new way, or innovating on a current solution to a problem. “Project” is worth 20% of the total points for teams.

The final aspect of FLL is the “Core Values” section. They are “Discovery, Innovation, Impact, Inclusion, Teamwork, and Fun. These philosophies of FLL are methods that promote teamwork and respect. Teams at the competition are asked questions about how they used such core values and evaluated on their usage of the key FLL core values.

So, as the FLL teams work on their projects, their experiences as students exploring STEM topics will contribute to their future education sweeten its fruits.

 

*Age applies only to US and Canadian students. (9-16 internationally)

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FIRST and LEGO — STEM leads the way by Nathan Yuan