First let me say congratulations to the RoboTigers! They had a great showing at their regional tournament and they are moving on to districts! They won awards for Robot Design and the Regional Ambassodor Award for their work telling other kids about FLL.
FIRST LEGO League (FLL) is a great program designed to get kids interested in STEM activities and careers. The entire FIRST program spans kindergarten through 12th grade with the FLL portion geared toward kids 9-14.
Each year the competition centers around a new theme. This year the theme is Nature’s Fury – Prepare. Stay Safe. Rebuild. Teams chose a community and a specific natural disaster the community faces. The teams researched the problems people in the community face and came up with an innovative solution to help the community prepare, stay safe, or rebuild after natural disasters. The teams are also expected to share their ideas with the people they want to help.
This summer some members of the RoboTigers were caught outside during a tornado warning with only a pavilion for shelter, so they decided to help their community better prepare for tornadoes. The team researched tornadoes by skyping with a meteorology grad student, emailing a professor studying tornado safety, and reading about research regarding helmet use in tornadoes. They also surveyed kids in their community and kids from Oklahoma to find out what they knew about tornadoes and tornado safety. From their research they learned that most injuries in tornadoes are caused by debris. They decided to create a portable Debris Protection System.
They designed an experiment to test the suitability of different materials. Then they designed a few Debris Protection Systems using bike helmets, safety glasses, gloves, and “leather” capes.
They presented the Debris Protection System at a city council meeting and at a Cub Scout Meeting.
The other portion of the FLL competition is the Robot Game. I’m sharing a short 2:30 video of the RoboTigers at competition. Not everything went correctly that day. Sometimes that is just the way things work, slight variations in the table or mat between home and competition can make a difference. For a complete overview of missions in this years robot game you can check out the official 28 minute video.
So what do the KIDS really like about FLL? I asked the RoboTigers to tell me their favorite thing(s) about FLL.
1. It’s FUN. They have a great time together as a team. When they are really putting in the final push to get ready for a tournament they frequently eat meals together and have plenty of time to goof around. Another nice aspect is the team stays together year after year.
2. Programming. The RoboTiger team makes sure all the kids participate in programming the robot. They really enjoy the sense of accomplishment when their mission works. There is something really satisfying about making a robot do what you want it to do.
3. The Robot Game – The tournament atmosphere is really fun and high energy. The kids have fun building the props for the missions and nicknaming the characters. They enjoy planning the missions, running the programs and designing the attachments.
4. Designing an Actual Prototype – They enjoy the chance to come up with real world solutions. This year they were able to develop a complete Debris Protection System and spread awareness that wearing a helmet during a tornado can save your life. FIRST provides a great opportunity for kids to have their ideas heard and respected.
If you have a son or daughter you think might be interested in FLL stay tuned. I’m working on more posts – including how to start a team and the aspects of FLL parents and coaches really appreciate.
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