The FIRST LEGO League (FLL) is a competitive program developed to encourage the exploration of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). The FLL challenges students to research and develop an innovative solution to a real-world problem. In addition to the challenge, students compete against other schools using LEGO Mindstorms technology, which they have designed, built, and programmed. All along, students abide by and work to develop the FLL’s prescribed Core Values. This is the first year ASFM has participated in the FIRST LEGO League, and we currently have four teams, two in the elementary and two in the middle school. While we have yet to compete, students have been working on the 3 components designed by the FIRST LEGO League.
In order to provide students with a chance to get to know each other, participate in some team building, and work on developing the Core Values, all four teams took a trip to Warica. Warica is a ropes course in the Huasteca Canyon, where a custom designed experience was created to help students learn about each other and learn how to work together. Activities ranged from students introducing themselves, maneuvering through a high ropes course, collaboratively passing a ball down PVC pipes, and moving simultaneously on an enlarged set of skis, students had the opportunity to develop and understand each of the 8 FIRST LEGO League Core Values:
- 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!
This year the project theme for all participants is hydrodynamics. Students are encouraged to think like engineers and scientists to improve how people find, transport, use, or dispose of water. Our elementary teams are still in the exploration and learning phase of the project. Students have watched videos and explored current problems about how people find and transport water, doing their best to focus specifically on Monterrey. Some brainstorming has occurred in the form of sketches in order to try to design solutions to these problems. The end goal for the project is for students to create a way to share their innovative prototype with others. The presentation will be live and may contain posters, models, multimedia clips, props and costumes. Creativity and intentionality of the presentation are key.
The robot game contains 18 different missions (challenges) that students must program a LEGO Mindstorm robot to autonomously complete. Each mission is built from a 2,500 LEGO kit and placed onto the playing field. This week the elementary students at ASFM have built the missions and are working on their coding/programming skills to complete each challenge. This has been a huge area of learning, as team members are developing skills to program the robots that contains two motors and multiple sensors. They are currently making the transition from programming the robot on the robot manually to using the LEGO Mindstorms EV3 Programmer app on an iPad. These are both tricky and impressive learning experiences for third, fourth and fifth graders to achieve.
As ASFM’s FLL teams continue to learn and improve throughout the season, we will continue to document and share updates.