LEGOs with Brains
Robot competition combines science and toys
Can you build a robot with a brain from LEGOS? That is the challenge of the First LEGO League (FLL) challenge.
The FLL is a worldwide organization that encourages kids to design, build, and program robots using LEGO technology. Its goal is to get children excited about science and technology. To do that, the organization holds a competition each year that challenges young LEGO builders to come up with solutions to real world problems.
This year's competition for kids ages 9-14 is to build LEGO tabletop robots that demonstrates "Safety on the Streets." A qualifying event was held recently at New York University Polytechnic in Brooklyn, New York. More than 25 kids came to form teams and compete.
"The characteristic of a robot is that it must have a brain, also called a brick," says Dr. Noel Kriftcher, Executive Director for the David Packard Center for Technology and Educational Alliances at NYU Poly. "The LEGOs enable you to program the brick to make it follow directions."
All the teams were fired up and excited to begin. When the competition started, the teams rushed to the pit room to review their models. Kids started working and talking to their coaches and teammates. Excitement and voices filled the room as teams helped each other and discussed their projects.
Called the 'Nerd Herd', last year's winners told this reporter that competition is time consuming.
"In order to gain confidence, you need to put in a lot of work and practice, practice, practice," said Greg Chin, 13, a member of the Nerd Herd from St. Edmund's School in Brooklyn, New York.
Nerd Herd Coach Christine Zaremba remarked on how her team was able to learn a lot from the teams from around the world when they represented New York City in the finals last year in Atlanta, Georgia. Fifty teams from the U.S. and 25 different countries including South Africa, Canada, India, and Chile participated.
A team from the Ronald Edmonds Learning Center, a public school in Brooklyn, was competing for the first time. The Scholastic Kids Press Corps will be tracking the progress of these two teams as they work on their robotic challenges over the next few weeks.
The teams work through four rounds to present different aspects of their models. Qualifying teams will move on to city-level competition with kids from other boroughs. The winners from those teams will continue to compete, with the goal of taking their creation to the global competition in Atlanta in April.
For more information about the how the New York FLL teams are doing with their challenge, come back to the Scholastic Kids Press Corps web site and check out the blog. This reporter will be following the teams as they work to get to Atlanta!
You can learn more about the FLL at its official website.
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