Seven teams of children from Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Surrey and West Sussex schools recently competed in a FIRST LEGO League (FLL) regional tournament, organised by the Institution of Engineering and Technology and hosted by National Instruments UK & Ireland in the company’s Newbury headquarters.
FLL is a team-based robotics programme and competition for 9–16-year-olds, designed to excite children about science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and real-world issues, as well as teach them valuable life, career and teamwork skills. The key aim is to encourage students from primary and secondary school into science and engineering. National Instruments LabVIEW graphical programming software powers the LEGO MINDSTORMS robotics platform, which is used by hundreds of teams of schoolchildren in the UK & Ireland, and over 250,000 young people globally, in the FLL robotics competition.
With ‘Nature’s Fury’ the theme for this year’s tournament, the teams deployed their robots to address a real-world challenge on the game tables, showcasing their creativity, technical skills and enthusiasm with topics such as a volcano eruption, zombie apocalypse and a plan to minimise forest fire devastation. Each team was tasked with three challenges, judged by NI employees: a robot game, where pre-programmed robots moved around the FFL table to complete tasks for points; a presentation about their project; together with a demonstration of their team working skills in the Core Values section of the tournament.
Robert Morton, Managing Director, National Instruments UK & Ireland, who attended the tournament, says: “From building better medical devices to providing renewable energy, engineers will play an important role in improving our future. As such, the current global deficit of engineering talent is a big problem for society. At National Instruments, we believe that events like FLL will play a key role in inspiring and nurturing the UK’s next generation of engineers, which will lead to a better future for us all. FLL provides children with a real insight into the wonderful world of engineering. On the run up to the event, the student teams had to identify a real-world problem, before combining software and hardware to create a solution. That is exactly what many professional engineers do every day.”
The winning team, Abingdon School from Oxfordshire, is now through to the national finals, where the UK winner will proceed to compete in the global tournament, held in the United States later this year. Find out more about the FIRST LEGO League competition at firstlegoleague.theiet.org, or go to www.ni.com.