A few months ago I approached my principal about entering a team into the First LEGO League competition, as always, she was very supportive. So our journey began…..the theme for 2016 was ‘Animal Allies’ where humans and animals interact positively.
In August a very large box arrived with small bags of LEGO pieces which needed to be made into the missions by following instructions online.
The competition table mat was also in the box…..and there was our first challenge to find a table big enough to place it on!! After quotes for building one and searching the school for one I soon realized another solution was needed fast……so the dismantling of book displays around the library (much to Megan’s horror!) gave us cubes to now place a large MDF board on ($20 from Bunnings).
Holidays and very few lunch times gave us time issues of trying to all meet together. Eventually we did manage a session with nearly all girls and were able to discuss competition requirements. The competition is made up of three components: The Core Values, The Project and The Robot Game.
We decided on a name of TLP’s (Techno LEGO Pengoes) but further into the challenge the girls changed the name to ‘Born to Code’. This tied in with the school motto “Born to Fly’. At the next meeting we watched videos and discussed interactions with animals….both positive and negative. One team member mentioned how cane toads were an issue with the dog food left outside…..there was our problem! We organised a couple of out of school sessions and it was during a Sunday session when the girls carried out a lot of research using books, websites and emailed various animal parks.
Discovering that toads had a limit on high they could jump the girls designed and prototyped various feeding bowls. The best solution was to have a bowl more than 30 cms above ground. This presented a problem for smaller dogs so a sensor pad was added to engage a drop down bar for the small dog to stand on and be able to reach the food.
The girls wrote a play to explain and tell their story as the method of project presentation. The presentation time is 5 minutes with 10 minutes of answering questions from the judges.
Our next out of school session was on a Saturday and it began with a team challenge of safely dropping a raw egg from the first floor of the building! Working as a team led to plenty of discussion, afterwards we saw strengths and weaknesses…..plenty to work on. On competition day judges will be watching and looking for the Core Values of discovery, integration, inclusion and coopertition (cooperation +competition) be demonstrated in all events.
During the Saturday session a parent and I made a barrier wall from wood…..needed to assist in programming the robot….and to stop it falling off the table! Mr Kemp presented us with EV3’s…..so excited except we needed now to familiarise ourselves with new software, we had been using NXT Mindstorms.
Time was getting short so another after school session was organised and some extra time in school.
Finally the day arrived.
Off to The Cube at QUT for an amazing day of competition. The girls presented their project and enjoyed the experience of sharing their prototype. The team challenge was making a shield representing FLL Core Values…..the girls were creative and enjoyed expressing themselves as part of St Aidan’s community. The other component was discussing the programs and design of ‘Cody’……which all girls were able to contribute towards.
There were three Robot Game sessions and the girls improved each time, changing strategies, programs and parts on ‘Cody’ (name of robot) and the order of missions.
The girls were so excited in the last game when they successfully completed 4 missions!
We are very fortunate to have an amazing Year 10 student, Jess, who mentors and supports the team.
It certainly was an exhausting day but an extremely rewarding day. We learnt so much which will assist our entry next year.