Similar to FIRST Robotics, FIRST LEGO League (FLL) challenges teams of students and their mentors to exercise science and technology principles to build a robot and compete in a friendly competition. It differs from FIRST Robotics in that it is open to younger students: 9- to 14-year-olds and 5- to 8-year-olds. And along with gears, motors and sensors, the students use LEGO bricks to construct their robots.
In January, the Kansas City area hosted its first FLL Competition for 9- to 14-year-old students. Held at the Metropolitan Community College of Business and Technology, 40 teams of students and their mentors, competed in the event.
Along with the metro event, many middle and elementary schools played host to in-house competitions this year, according to Dr. Carolyn Conklin, FLL partner, of Shawnee, Kan. She said FLL had an overwhelming number of teams from KC sign up to participate this school year: a total of 130.
While Conklin believes the use of LEGOs piqued students' interest in the competition, she is convinced that the biggest draw was robotics.
"Students are just interested in anything that has to do with robotics,” she said. “And this is the perfect event to challenge them in this field. It's a wonderful way to expand their math and science knowledge."
In the FLL competition, students completed a nano quest project, where they explored a current or potential application of nanotechnology. Students then designed a solution or improvement and shared examples. The process challenges students to think creatively, solve problems and overcome obstacles while strengthening their motivation to learn in new ways.