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Lab welcomes FIRST LEGO League

Piecing together the technology, one brick at a time!

Daresbury Laboratory (DL) has welcomed schools from across the North West for the annual FIRST LEGO League tournament.

The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) is the operational partner for FIRST LEGO League in the UK and Ireland and Daresbury Laboratory has hosted a North West tournament for several years. 16 schools from Wigan, Manchester, Wirral, Cheshire, and Lancashire brought with them 147 students and 30 teachers.

FIRST LEGO League is an accessible, guided, global robotics competition, helping students and teachers to build a better future together. It is built around theme-based challenges to engage children aged 9 to 16 in research, problem solving, coding, and engineering. At its heart are the FIRST Core Values, which emphasise teamwork, discovery, and innovation. The aim is that students participating in the challenges will emerge more confident, excited, and equipped with the skills they need in a changing workforce.

The tournament took place over two days, with mornings spent judging the teams based on innovation projects, robot design and core values. The afternoons involved a fun ‘robot challenge’ where teams are given three attempts to score the highest points possible navigating obstacles and against the clock! We even add a DL robot attempting the challenge, but suffice to say the schools beat us!

Four new schools from Warrington took part this year, following a coding week delivered by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) public engagement team in April 2019. For the first time, the IET were able to provide funding to these schools to enable them to take part. 

There were plenty of staff on hand from Daresbury Laboratory who volunteered their time to help ensure the young people had an unforgettable experience. They were given roles as judges, score keepers, guides, runners and an MC. Staff from the Hartree Centre, specialists in high performance computing, data analytics and AI technology, delivered bonus quizzes and Adrian Oates, an engineer on site, showed his Robot Wars ‘Eruption’ robot over lunch to help the visitors put their new-found coding skills into context.

Lowri Walton, FIRST LEGO League IET Education Manager, said: “Teams who take part in FIRST LEGO League this year will experience engineering in action. The programme makes STEM subjects fun and accessible as the young people get hands-on experience with robotics and designing innovative solutions. The teams develop computer programming, teamwork, problem-solving and communications skills in an incredibly exciting environment. The IET supports FIRST LEGO League because it equips young people with the skills that they need to become future innovators and engineers.”

FIRST LEGO League is the world’s largest STEM competition with 40,000 teams in more than 100 countries. In the end there could only be one winner each day and that honour went to Caldy Grange High School from the Wirral and St Ambrose Barlow Catholic Primary School from Wigan. Both will head to Bristol in February 2020 for the national finals. Good luck to both schools!

Last updated: 06 January 2020


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