Students Compete in FIRST Lego League

Four teams of Lower and Middle School students—28 students in total—participated against 35 other teams in a FIRST Lego League regional competition on Sunday, Nov. 11, at Marquette University High School. University School’s Team Galactic Girls—one of the youngest teams at the competition—won an Innovation Award for their solution to making space food look more appealing to astronauts through the use of augmented reality glasses.

Students began programming and building their Lego robot on the first day of school, and spent three hours per week after school working on the project. “The students really took the reins on their robots,” said Brita Willis, 3rd-grade teacher and team coach. “As coaches, we wanted to make sure the students learned the process and understood their robot from the inside out. The judges said they could tell that our students did all of the work themselves, which we thought was great.” Nicola De Torre, 8th-grade science teacher, also served as a team coach.

The students were able to accomplish some work in the school’s Lubar Center for Innovation and Exploration, where they drew inspiration and assistance from Upper School students who were working on their own robot for the FIRST Robotics Competition. “We hope that getting involved in robotics at a younger age will inspire students to keep up with it as they go to Upper School,” said Willis.

According to Willis, the students had a great time and are already brainstorming plans for next year’s competition. “This was our first year competing and we didn’t know what to expect, but we are so proud of everyone. It’s a great activity for somebody who wants to try something other than sports or theatre, and we can’t wait to see where it will go.”

About FIRST Lego
FIRST Lego League teams (up to 10 members, grades 4 through 8) research a real-world problem such as food safety, recycling, energy, etc., and are challenged to develop a solution. They also must design, build, and program a robot using Lego Mindstorms software, then compete on a table-top playing field.

Students learn to apply science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) concepts, plus imagination, to solve a problem. Along their journey, they develop critical thinking and team-building skills, basic STEM applications, and even presentation skills, as they must present their solutions with creativity to judges. They also practice the program’s core values, which emphasize discovery, teamwork, and good sportsmanship.
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