RI FIRST LEGO League
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Does a robot competition count as a competitive sport? Absolutely.
Like the iconic interlocking parts of Legos that manage to make up astounding structures, the skills, research and teamwork that teams put together yield equally impressive results. Each year, the FIRST LEGO League puts out a real-world challenge that consists of two parts: the Project and the Robot Game. The challenge ranges from designing nanotechnology constructions to developing alternative energy sources, and solving transportation problems, offering young people an opportunity to think and suggest solutions to issues professionals research on a daily basis.
The FIRST LEGO League has grown significantly over the past twelve years, growing in team participation by over one thousand teams each year, and expanding to include teams from fifty-four countries. As teams advance, young people not only get the unique experience of solving real-world challenges, but also the opportunity to widen their perspectives to include diverse problem-solving methods and populations.
In Rhode Island
Local participation is gaining ground annually, and thanks to the connectedness of our local community, has gotten substantial support from local engineers, scientists and other professionals. But the most important aspect is the program’s impact on the youth.
However, this is not just about enhancing learning and problem solving skills - it is also about learning to work well with others and developing stage presence. Students are evaluated on their research presentation, robot presentation, robot performance, and their teamwork. Gendron says it best, “It is really a complete package [of an extracurricular activity], not just robot wars.”
Accessible to All
But all too often, not every child has an equal opportunity to participate in these kinds of programs. The FIRST LEGO League is open to any 9 to 14 year old, regardless of school, club, or economic condition. Although it costs approximately $800 to start a brand new team, hardship grants are readily available for new teams earlier in the registration period. With a bit of planning, any child can take part in this life-changing program.
Interested in forming a team? Registration can be completed online at the FIRST LEGO League website, and is open until mid-September. There are many ways to get involved with FIRST LEGO League, including but not limited to volunteering, sponsoring, and mentoring. Contact Gina Valdes for more information.
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