FORT WAYNE, Ind.—Is it possible for youth to be better prepared than most adults for natural disasters? They just might be if they were on one of the 303 Indiana FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL®) robotic teams this year. In the 2013 FLL® season, youth from around the world tackled an ambitious challenge: to research natural disasters and propose solutions for what can be done when intense natural events meet the places where people work, play, and live. The top 52 Indiana teams will share what they’ve learned about preparing, staying safe, and rebuilding, just as our news headlines include typhoons, tornadoes, and flooding.
Indiana teams of 9–14 year olds participated with other teams worldwide in this year’s FLL “NATURE’S FURYSM” Challenge to research and present their own creative solutions to one of today’s most relevant topics: natural disasters. In the exciting robot game phase, teams built, tested, and programmed an autonomous robot using LEGO® MINDSTORMS® NXT or the new EV3 to solve a set of natural disaster missions such as positioning an evacuation sign, clearing an airplane runway of debris, and delivering supplies to LEGO people by traveling through an obstacle course of LEGO structures. The cornerstones of the experience are building skills in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) and the FLL core values that emphasize the contributions of others, friendly competition known as “Gracious Professionalism®,” and community involvement.
As FLL has the largest participation to date, Indiana also had its largest number of teams, with 303 officially registered. 295 of those teams competed in one of 12 Indiana FLL qualifying tournaments, and 52 teams (approximately 500 students) have advanced to the Indiana Championship. The Field House at Indiana University–Purdue University Fort Wayne’s (IPFW’s) Athletics Center will come alive with the energy of these teams during the 14th annual IPFW-Exelis Indiana FLL Championship Tournament on Saturday, December 14. The event is free and open to the public.
The Robot Games are run like a sporting event, with referees scoring the matches. Teams create a team identity with catchy names and shirts, cheering their team on to get the best robot score. The Indiana champions will earn the opportunity to be invited to a national or international invitational to compete against other championship teams.
Each challenge has three parts: the robot game, the project, and the FLL core values. The challenge requires teams to research and present their own creative solutions to complete the project phase and master the complex missions of the robot game phase. The competition emphasizes the core values of FLL, where participants learn that friendly competition and mutual gain can coexist. In the competition they practice helping one another as the foundation of teamwork. Adult coaches guide and support the teams throughout the season, but the students do the work.
“FIRST LEGO League provides a fun and engaging experience for children around the world to become innovators and creative problem solvers on a very relevant and real topic,” said Jacob Kragh, president, LEGO Education. “Using a real-world issue to drive a process where children are in control empowers them with a chance to take what they learn and apply it to their own lives, not only during this challenge, but also to their future adventures and endeavors.”
FLL is an international program for 9 to 16 year-old children (ages 9 to 14 in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico) created in a partnership between FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, founded in 1989 by Dean Kamen) and the LEGO Group in 1998, to get children excited about science and technology—and teach them valuable career and life skills.
The mission of FIRST is to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders by engaging them in exciting, mentor-based programs that build STEM skills, inspire innovation, and foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership. To learn more about FIRST, go to usfirst.org.
The LEGO Group is a privately-held firm based in Billund, Denmark that is committed to the development of children's creative and imaginative abilities through high-quality, creatively educational play materials, and its employees are guided by the motto adopted in the 1930s by founder Ole Kirk Christiansen: "Only the best is good enough." For more information, visit LEGO.com.
For more information about the December event, contact Carol Dostal, director of outreach programs in the College of Engineering, Technology, and Computer Science, at 260-481-6905 or firstname.lastname@example.org.