A few weeks back, I attended my first FIRST Lego League (FLL) qualifiers at the Liberty High School in Renton. I volunteered at the registration desk in the morning checking in coaches and students. I got to welcome students ages 9-16 from 30 local teams as they entered the building around 8 AM. With big smiles on their faces and robots in their hands, they were ready for an exciting day of building, networking, testing, presenting, competing and just having a blast.
After everyone was checked in, I got to walk around and soak in the experience of the day; I checked out the judging room where students were presenting their projects to the judges. Students chose problems in their communities, researched them and came up with solutions using tech. Themes for these projects included clean water, safer playgrounds, reducing landfill waste, smart sidewalks, etc.
I walked around and talked to teams in the Pit area where they had posters and prototypes for everyone to see. This year’s challenge is called City Shaper and students programmed their Lego Mindstorms robots to solve various challenges in a city they had built with Lego. It was lovely to see students testing their code, timing their activities, and tweaking their robots and code on the fly when things didn’t work as expected. I talked to coaches and mentors as these young coders practiced on the game field to ensure their robots were ready for action.
I didn’t get to see the teams compete on the field this time, but I hope to be back for the semifinals and bring some of my robotics students along as well.
Have you ever attended a robotics competition? Please share your experience using the comments below.