STEM Ambassador, Ian Rodwell, shares his First Lego League experience

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First Lego League (FLL) is an international science and technology competition with over 250,000 young people taking part each year.

This competition aims to inspire young people to discover and love STEM, whilst teaching them valuable life skills that are crucial for their future careers.

Working in teams of up to ten with a supporting adult coach, pupils aged 9-16 are invited to take part in this annual competition.

The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) is the operational partner for the FLL in the UK and Ireland, and the schedule for 2016-17 is well underway, with competing teams in midst of tournament season.

Each year FLL releases a new challenge to the teams and for this season’s challenge, Animal Allies, students have been tasked with building, testing and programming an autonomous robot- certainly no easy feat!

Semi-finalists will be heading to the UK and Ireland Final on Sunday 26 February 2017 which will be held at University of West of England (UWE) Exhibition and Conference Centre, Bristol.

If you’re interested in getting involved with the challenge as a school, STEM club or in a voluntary capacity, read STEM Ambassador Ian Rodwell’s inspirational story of West Linton Primary School’s experience below.

The “West Linton Wasps”, the current UK and Ireland Champions, are a primary school team from the Scottish Borders who were taking part for the first time. They won a Project Award for Innovation at the World Festival.

West Linton Wasp’s ‘Trash Trek’ triumph!

Last year, STEM Ambassador Ian offered his Friday lunch hour to act as one of the helpers at the local primary school in their newly formed Young Engineers club, supporting them with their entry into the FLL.

Their topic, Trash Trek Challenge, was based around waste reduction, recycling and reuse. With neither any experience in building Lego robots or programming, the students, coaches and parent mentors showed commitment to the cause, even holding sessions over the Christmas holidays in order to try to build a working robot.

Following their success in the first heat, the team travelled to Loughborough for the UK and Ireland finals.

At the event, the team not only won the trophy for the robot performance award, but also the trophy for the knockout award and were named as the overall UK and Ireland champions for 2016. That qualified them to compete in the FLL world finals just two months later, with the team, their coaches and parents flying out to St Louis, Missouri for the finals.

The team were amongst the youngest at the festival but represented themselves with maturity; their crowning glory came when the team were presented with a trophy for second place in the Innovative Solution category for their project.

 

Watch IET’s video which gives tips on how to successfully compete in the FLL tournament 

Find out more about the First Lego League