Students Compete in Lego Challenge

by Christopher O'Brien

Kids sure do love Legos. But those small colorful bricks aren’t just for toddler play. As ten high school students discovered, they are the perfect tool to bring out imagination to solve real world problems

Twenty teams of ten students children guided by their volunteer coaches will demonstrate their problem-solving skills, creative thinking, teamwork, competitive play, sportsmanship, and sense of community at Wolcott High School on Saturday. The competition, called FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) will begin at 9 am and is open to the public. This is the second stage in the competition and winners will go to the finals at CCSU next month.

Founded by inventor Dean Kamen, who introduced the IBOT Mobility System and the Segway® Human Transporter (HT), FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) was created to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people, their schools, and their communities.

LEGO League (FLL) is an international program for 9-14 year olds, created in a partnership between FIRST and The LEGO Group in 1998 to get children excited about science and technology – and teach them valuable employment and life skills. Children work alongside adult mentors to design, build, and program autonomous robots and create an innovative solution to a problem as part of their research project. The competition season culminates at high-energy, sports-like tournaments. Like any other organized “sport,” teams also fundraise, create a team identity, and go on field trips.

     The 2012 Senior Solutions Challenge tasks FLL teams to improve the quality of life for seniors by helping them continue to be independent, engaged, and connected in the community. Teams worked with their “Senior Partners” to learn about challenges facing today’s Seniors, and then had to come up with and be able to present innovative solutions to those problems. Students also build robots using Lego® MINDSTORMS® technologies to compete in challenges that are based off of challenges facing today’s seniors.

     “I don’t think any great innovator or technologist got up in the morning trying to do something really big, really innovative, because they wanted a job,” said Dean Kamen, FIRST Founder and president of DEKA Research & Development Corporation. “If we create a generation of passionate, smart, well educated, informed kids willing to take educated risks as they try new things. If we create a passionate generation that understands the power of science and technology and how to apply it, trust me – they’ll have jobs. That’s a consequence of what they’ll have. If FIRST succeeds, we’ll have a rebirth of society that believes in a future that can be better then the past. We’re going to make sure we build a 21 st century, a future that’s way more exciting than the 20th century.”

The FLL competition is judged in four areas: project presentation; robot performance; technical design and programming of the robot; and teamwork, with a consideration of the FLL Core Values. The highest honor will go to the team that is the most rounded in these areas and best exemplifies the spirit and values of the program. Teams selected will be able to move on to the Connecticut State FLL Championship, held December 9th, 2012 at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, Connecticut. A select few teams from the State Championship will be able to participate in the FIRST LEGO League World Festival, which is held in conjunction with the FIRST Championship, April 24-27, 2013 at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, Mo.

     The event Saturday will include teams from around Connecticut including: Wolcott, Bristol, Hamden, Wallingford, Orange, Groton, Burlington, Harwington, Stamford, Southington, and Hartford.

The Where is Wolcott FLL Qualifying event will be held Saturday, December 1st, 2012 at Wolcott High School, 456 Boundline Road, Wolcott, CT. Doors open at 8:00 am. It will be held from 9am—4:00pm

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