STEM learning with FIRST

STEM Learning:  Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math  – It’s easy to make sure we teach the science and math.  What about Technology and Engineering?   How do we teach those?

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Today I thought I would share a program that helps us incorporate STEM learning in our homeschool.

I have 8 and 10-year-old boys who are very into everything science and LEGO.  A little over a year ago the older requested a Mindstorm LEGO Robot.  Cool!  I thought he would make a few configurations and learn to make it do a few things.

Then a friend of mine told me about FIRST LEGO League (FLL) !  She even helped us find a team!  It’s like a sports team only more FUN!  Most of the parents don’t know much about what’s going on so they just do their best to cheer and be supportive.  The atmosphere of the events is very fun for the kids.

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FIRST stands for For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.  They have programs for kids from K – 12 so no matter what age your kids are you can find a program designed for them.

We had such a positive experience last year that I’m coaching a Jr.FLL team for my younger son this year.

Some of our favorite things about our FIRST LEGO League experience:

1. The TEAM – Our son had a great time being on the team with a friend and becoming friends with kids who were older than him.  It was great to have a team with so many similar interests.

2. The core values of FIRST reinforce many of the values we are teaching our kids.   The kids are judged not only on their robots, research and projects but on how well they display the core values.

3. Researching and thinking in innovative ways.  Research is such a great life skill and the kids learn it in such a fun way.  They aren’t just researching to write a paper like everyone else, they are working as a team to find a solution.  What are existing solutions?  What can we do better?

4.  The competitions are crazy fun and recognize achievement in multiple areas. The kids might dress up like knights or cows, wear weird hats, or hand out trinkets.  The judges and referees dress up.  Some teams had a team song, dance, or handshake. There isn’t just one team taking home an award.  At the FLL age approximately 1/3 of teams went home with an award.  Awards were given for how well the robot performed, quality programming, teamwork, professionalism, research, and innovative solutions.

5. Programming is challenging and fun.  It is so great to get all the bugs worked out and have your robot perform as expected.  The way the robot rounds are set up with a 2 1/2 minute time limit achieving a “perfect” score is impossible.  Teams must decide which points they will attempt and which ones are most repeatable.

Check out the overview of FLL offered at this link:

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Remember you don’t have to know how to program to start a team!

I received no compensation for this post.  I’m simply a mom / coach who is enthusiastic about the opportunities the FIRST competitions give kids.

I’m ever so pleased to be sharing this post over at

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Thank to Kris for providing the Homeschool Showcasewhere she spotlights all the encouraging, inspiring and just plain fun ways that homeschooling families live and learn together.

 

 

5 thoughts on “STEM learning with FIRST

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    • They just put out a new EV3 Mindstorm Robot that will be replacing the NXT. It is supposed to be more user friendly out of the box and has the option for a gyro sensor.

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