A team of students has won the UK final of the IET’s FIRST LEGO League (FLL), and will now compete in the World FLL Festival in the USA. 35 teams from across the UK showcased their skills on Sunday; they were judged on their ability to design, build and programme a LEGO MINDSTORMS robot; their presentation and research skills; and how well they cooperate with each other and their competitors.
They were also tasked with presenting an original idea related to redesigning how we gather knowledge and skills in the 21st century. The winning team C14 impressed judges with their advanced robotics skills, as well as their project, which was a game that educates young people studying Geography about natural disasters.
Nicky Morgan, Secretary of State for Education and Loughborough MP, attended the event and presented the Insight into Learning award. she commented: “It’s fantastic to attend this event in Loughborough and to see so many young people taking part. We need to see more young people engaging in competitions like FLL which encourage them to consider careers in engineering and technology, so that the UK economy continues to be supported by a booming industry.”
Each team, of up to ten 9-16 year olds, were tasked with designing and programming a LEGO MINDSTORMS robot and using it to solve problems and tasks. Expectations are even higher this year as, for the last two years, the UK and Ireland finalists have gone on to be crowned FLL World Champions at the global final in America. Supporting the competition is part of the IET’s commitment to show young people the benefits of careers within Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
The team consists of Joseph Cornmell (16 from Hermitage), Robbie Cornmell (14 from Hermitage), Nathan Rivett (14 from Basingstoke), Daniel Rivett (13 from Basingstoke), Leon Quelch (16 from Cowley), Leiden Quelch (13 from Cowley), Toby Sage (16 from Hook), Gabriel Hunt (17 from Winchester) and Niko Bessey (14 from Reading). They said: “It feels incredible. We are all still in shock. We never expected to do this well, but we’re now really looking forward to going to America to take part in the World Festival. Our project is a game that will help students to learn about natural disasters for a Geography exam. Like FLL, our game helps you learn, but as it is fun it makes you want to keep learning. We enjoyed researching natural disasters as part of last year’s FLL project, but we were disappointed when we started to study the subject for our Geography GCSE that the teaching resources were not very inspirational. We felt it would be more engaging if it was taught in a different way, via a game.”
This year’s competition is especially exciting because, in addition to the generous ongoing support from Bechtel, Intelligent Automation and Loughborough University, the IET has also joined forces with Disney.
President of the IET, William Webb, concluded: “The IET runs competitions like the FLL in order to show young people the merits of engineering. In order to tackle the engineering skills gap we need more graduates to enter the profession, and this can only happen if more school-age children are attracted to, and choose to study STEM subjects.”