First Lego League Inspires 1,000 Scottish Children to Revel in Robotics

Digital world

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Lambda Jam and the RSE Young Academy of Scotland (YAS) have been building on the success of last year’s FIRST LEGO League (FLL) to bring the enjoyment of robotics to 1,000 Scottish schoolchildren.

The young master builders and inventors have been gearing up to put their robots and ideas to the test at tournaments across the country.

Working in teams, children aged 9 – 16 have spent three months designing, building and programming Lego robots, which are capable of tackling a variety of set missions.

This season’s missions have been centred on the theme of TRASH TREK, which has encouraged participants to think about the world’s problem of waste.

Scotland’s top universities will be playing host in the coming weeks. Moray House School of Education will welcome teams on Saturday 9 January and The University of St Andrews (16th January). The final Scottish tournament will be held The University of Dundee (23rd January).
Two regional heats have already taken place at the Glasgow Science Centre and Robert Gordon University.

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The winners of each of these regional tournaments will also go on to the UK national finals hosted by the Institution of Engineering and Technology, the national FLL organisers.

A winning team will be selected at this event to represent the UK at the world final in St Louis, USA where regular supporters Will.i.am and Barack Obama may be in attendance cheering them on.

Organiser Laura Meikle says: “We have been running First Lego League in Scotland for three years and it continues to go from strength to strength. The appetite to take part has been phenomenal.

“The combination of Lego – the world’s most popular toy – with technology is definitely part of the appeal. However, it’s the focus on a major world issue which really draws a diverse group of children, making it a unique STEM initiative.”

She adds: “This is the culmination of months of engineering design, programming, and research, led mainly by teachers with mentoring from professional engineers and university academics.”

In addition to creating the robots, the teams have been set the challenge of identifying a specific problem with the way people make or dispose of rubbish. They will create innovative solutions in response to this challenge. This aspect of the programme is designed to help participants realise the potential they have to change their communities and improve the lives of others.

A primary focus of the RSE Young Academy Scotland and Lambda Jam has been to broaden participation in engineering and computing.

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Skills Development Scotland is supporting the programme as part of its Digital World campaign, which aims to change attitudes and promote careers in the digital technology sector.

A bursary scheme was set up to provide the children with robot kits, training and support. Priority was given to teams likely to have limited access to resources and those with a majority of female participants.

YAS member and FLL organiser Fiona McNeill commented, “At the Young Academy of Scotland, we are really focussed on helping kids to access the amazing possibilities in technology and engineering – industries which are crying out for enthusiastic people and which see thousands of jobs go unfilled. FLL is fantastic for helping kids see how exciting and creative engineering and programming can be.”

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