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Iowa Lakes hosts regional qualifying competition for FIRST® LEGO® League

November 27, 2017

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For the sixth year in a row, Iowa Lakes Community College will host a FIRST® LEGO® League Regional Qualifying Competition on Saturday, Dec. 2, at the Estherville campus. Winners of this qualifying competition will advance to statewide competition at Iowa State University Jan. 13-14, 2018.

The winners of the top award – called the Champion’s Award – may be eligible to participate in a variety of post-season tournament opportunities both domestic and abroad.

Participants ages 9-14 can form teams 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 robots, and prepare in-depth research presentations related to the challenge theme. Team members can use any LEGO® parts to build their team’s robot – including parts they already own.

This year’s competition will also include a FLL Jr. Expo which involves young people ages 5-8. This is a growing competition with adding new teams each year. 

FIRST® LEGO® League is an international program, created by FIRST® and LEGO®, designed to get children interested in and excited about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects. 

Each year, FIRST® releases a new challenge that engages teams in hands-on robotics design and scientific research. The theme changes from year to year, allowing students to learn about a variety of subjects. This year’s FIRST® LEGO® League competition revolves around Hydrodynamics where participants are challenged to improve the way people find, transport, use or dispose of water.

To successfully complete the challenge, teams of young people must build and program a LEGO® MINDSTORMS® robot to complete missions, showing adults the ways that kids need and want to learn in the 21st century. Teams also develop their own innovative tools to help others gather knowledge. 

Each challenge has three parts: the Robot Game, the Project, and the FLL Core Values. Teams of two to 10 children, with two adult coaches, 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). Both the Project and the Robot Game are guided by the FLL Core Values. 

Past challenge themes have included nanotechnology, climate, quality of life for people with disabilities, transportation, recycling, and animal/human interaction. By designing the challenges around such topics, participants are exposed to potential career paths and solidify 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 paths they choose.

Each team’s hard work culminates in a one-day, high-energy, sports-like tournament. 

At tournaments, teams have three rounds on the competition tables to get the best score possible. When not competing with their robots, teams give their research presentations, and are interviewed about the technical designs of their robots and how they work as teams. 

The day is free and spectators are encouraged to attend and watch all of the activities. The event starts at 9 a.m. and ends at approximately 2:30 p.m. 

For more information on Iowa Lakes Community College visit

For More Information:

Julie Clark, Regional Organizer for the First Lego League and Science Lab Assistant, 712-362-8359

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