Gardner Lego League Combines Values & Robotics

Gardner Lego League Combines Values & Robotics
Posted on 11/09/2018
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The Gardner Magnet Lego League is a Robotics Club connected to leagues across the world through the FIRST Lego League Program, which is an alliance program established in 1998 between FIRST (For Inspiration & Recognition of Science & Technology) and the Lego group.  Gardner Teacher Mrs. Lorri Saracini has been club advisor and organizer for 15 years, with help from Mrs. Jodie Spainhour. In her math classroom, thousands of Lego blocks are carefully organized in rollaway tubs and drawers underneath a life-size robot table top. Each year, she arranges to receive the Challenge Guide and robot kit from the FIRST Lego League, and then advises 9-10 year old members through the competition process. The 2018-2019 club has ten members and meets after school, three days each week, to practice for competition.

FIRST LEGO League teams receive an annual Challenge Guide, which identifies a theme that drives club initiatives throughout the phases of preparation and competition. For the first part of the competition process, a FIRST Lego League team researches a real-world problem such as food safety, recycling, energy, etc., and is challenged to develop a solution to the problem and eventually present the solution to judges. Members also must design, build, and program a robot using code designed by students, and then compete on a table-top playing field. Through these projects, students learn to apply STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) skills, and build imagination, problem solving, team-building, and even presentation skills. Finally, members must prove during competitions that they abide by the core values of the program, which include: Discovery, Innovation, Impact, Inclusion, Teamwork, and Fun. More than 32,000 students participate across 88 countries in the world.  Find the Challenge Guide for 2018, here, which is “Into Orbit” and correlated in every way to space.  

Real-World Problem: The space-related real world problem chosen by members is: How do we arrange for enough food to sustain astronauts during long-term space missions? Their [fascinating and super creative] solution: Crickets. This group has researched and established a sound argument regarding how the protein-rich insect can easily be cultivated, cooked, and consumed by astronauts and provide a diet that is more filled with essentials like protein, multiple vitamins including large amounts of calcium, and calories than other food options. Students point out that many other populations in countries around the world consume crickets for these reasons. They are finalizing details about how to cultivate a thriving population of crickets, and best practices for cooking the insects in a kitchen with limited warming capabilities. Students remind audiences that crickets taste like popcorn when roasted, which could be a bonus for astronauts. Student members have written several cricket companies to ask for cricket starter kits so that they can experience growing a cricket population in the classroom, just as astronauts would in space.

Robot Missions: The Challenge Guide also identifies robot challenges (called missions) to go along with the the annual theme. Robot missions are worth different variations of points in the competition. Students must choose which missions they want to accept, and use the kit and software to fulfill each with robots and robotic technology. During the competition, students have 2 minutes and 30 seconds make robots do the assigned missions.

Core Values: The third and final piece to competition is a challenge called the “Core Value Room.” Judges are testing groups on the Core Values of the program (Discovery, Innovation, Impact, Inclusion, Teamwork, and Fun) through challenges that have nothing to do with their projects, and everything to do with teamwork and character. Judges may give a group a task like blindfolding one member, while others give directions for completing a project. Students are being awarded in this challenge for communication, respect, and other characteristics that accomplish the Core Values.

The Gardner Magnet Lego League competes in Springdale on December 15 at a qualifying event. If they place there, they will be invited to compete at the state competition.

Learn more about our HSSD Gardner STEM Magnet School, here.

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