More than 80 fourth and fifth grade students from throughout the District recently gathered at Penn Wynne Elementary School for Lower Merion's inaugural FIRST LEGO League Tournament. Fifteen different teams of students, under the direction of parent and teacher coaches, were challenged to design, build and program a robot using Lego Mindstorms and to present research on a real-life problem regarding Space Travel.
Community judges and referees graciously volunteered their time and expertise in areas such as physics, engineering, education and psychology to review student presentations and discuss solutions. These professionals also enlightened students on various careers in STEM-fields all while encouraging values of team work and persistence.
The students had to devise a way for their robot to navigate through a prescribed path on a map from beginning to end. Along the way, the robot had to perform specific tasks, such as stopping at specified locations, transporting various LEGO objects, unloading the objects on either side of the path, and moving forwards and backwards. The students had to figure out how to use the Lego bricks, sensors and programming software to accomplish the given tasks.
At the end of the competition, each team was acknowledged with an award for robot design, robot programming, innovation, teamwork, advanced engineering, research, team spirit, creativity or for offering a unique solution.
FIRST LEGO League (FLL) is intended to get students excited about STEM while teaching them important life skills. Each team of students, guided by the FLL core values, identifies a problem, creates an innovative solution and programs an autonomous robot to score points on a predetermined course. These three elements - core values, the research project and the robot games - comprise the FLL Challenge.