A group of Lego-mad Irish kids secured the title of national champions at the FIRST Lego League contest in Galway this weekend. The ‘Termin8tors’ from Moycullen will be representing Ireland in the European finals in Germany this summer. Brilliant. We love when Ireland wins stuff, but we’re a little confused about just what exactly the FIRST Lego League is…
What is the FIRST Lego League? Do you just build Lego? Sounds like fun.
The FIRST Lego League is a partnership between robotics company For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) and the maker of everyone’s favourite childhood toy, Lego. The title is a bit misleading in that the competition doesn’t actually involve building loads of Lego. Disappointed. But the competition does involve robots made by Lego.
Robots + Lego = awesome. Tell me more!
Basically the Lego League is an international competition aimed at primary and secondary school children between the ages of 9-16. Every September a new challenge is announced that focuses on a real-world topic linked to the sciences in some way. Students taking part in the competition have to design and programme a Lego robot to complete a task associated with the main topic of the competition.
What was the topic this year?
This year’s theme was “food safety.”
Snore. Sounds boring.
Maybe so but some Irish students had unique ways of making it interesting. Some studied solutions on how to deal with E.coli contamination and the overall winners of the competition designed an educational iPhone app called “Food Safety Buddy” which helps people to store and prepare food safely. Not bad for a group in the 9-14 years old age bracket, hmm? Did we mention there were robots too?
Not bad at all. Can older people take part?
Yep. Even college students can join in. Bigger kids can make their own robots and enter them into battles with other robots. Some colleges even put on science, engineering and technological displays to get into the spirit of things and FIRST and Lego have announced that a senior competition will be launched later this year.
That’s great and everything but what do you get if you win?
Aside from the glory of knowing that you can make a deadly Lego robot that can actually do stuff? Well, we don’t know yet. Teams can win a host of awards based on various aspects of robot design such as performance and mobility, but the grand prize has yet to be announced. Oh the suspense…
So you’re telling me that kids get academic credit for playing with Lego and building robots?
Yes. It’s fun and educational! What a combination. If anyone needs us we’ll be taking our old Lego out of the attic…