Iowa Lakes Community College hosted 16 teams at the Estherville campus Saturday as part of the FIRST® LEGO® League Regional Qualifying Competition. Four teams will now advance to the Championship event at Iowa State University in January.
FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL) is an international program, created by FIRST® and LEGO®, designed to get children interested in and excited about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) subject areas.
Regional qualifying teams advancing to the Championship event include: the West Bend Probots who were the Overall Champions – and also took an honorable mention in the Robot Design Awards category; the Core Values award went to O2Go of Hospers; Project Champion was Winnebago Warriors of Forest City; and, the Robot Design Award was granted to the Techno Indians of Spirit Lake.
Other awards included the Rising Star Award which the Spirit Lake Red team captured; the Team Spirit Award went to the Opossum Bots of Spirit Lake; the Spirit Lake Yellow team received honorable mention in the Project Awards category; the TSA Techies of Granville received honorable mention for Core Values; and the Lake Mills team captured honorable mention for the Champions Award.
Teams came from 10 communities including Buffalo Center, Forest City, Granville, Harris-Lake Park, Hospers, Lake Mills, Mason City, Spencer, Spirit Lake and West Bend.
FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) releases a new challenge each year that engages teams in hands-on robotics design and scientific research. This year, the ‘challenge’ was to design a robot that improves the quality of life for seniors by helping them continue to be independent, engaged and connected in their communities.
Each Challenge has three parts: the Robot Game, the Project, and the FLL Core Values. Teams of up to 10 children, with one adult coach, participate in the Challenge by programming an autonomous robot to score points on a themed playing field (Robot Game), developing a solution to a problem they have identified (Project), all guided by the FLL Core Values.
Participants (ages 9-14) are exposed to potential career paths within a chosen Challenge topic, in addition to solidifying the STEM principles that naturally come from participating in a robotics program. Team members also learn valuable life and employment skills which will benefit them no matter which career path they choose.
Teams of 2-10 members can form from any group: school, scouts, religious organizations, home school groups or even groups of friends. After the challenge has been released, teams have about three months to design, program and build their robot, and prepare an in-depth research presentation related to the challenge theme. The LEGO® Mindstorms robotics kit is used to build a robot capable of completing tasks autonomously on the playing field. Team members can use any LEGO® parts to build the robot – including parts they already own.
This weekend’s Northwest Iowa Regional Qualifying Tournament was sponsored by Rockwell Collins, Iowa State University College of Engineering and Iowa Lakes Community College.
For more information on Iowa Lakes Community College, and the Northwest Iowa STEM Hub, visit www.iowalakes.edu.
The Probots of West Bend Pose for a photo after the event. They were the Overall Champions and also received Honorable Mention in Robot Design.