AMES, Iowa – Hundreds of Iowa 9- to 14-year-olds showed off their engineering skills and competed for top honors during the Iowa FIRST LEGO League (FLL) State Championship Jan. 14 at Iowa State University. Among the 72 teams of youth, 11 Iowa 4-H teams competed.
The 4-H teams represented several counties:
This year teachers, parents and mentors helped students establish 295 FIRST LEGO League teams across the state, many of them 4-H teams. The teams competed in nine regional competitions for the chance to advance to the state championship at Iowa State.
The statewide championship featured 72 teams in action from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Iowa State University’s College of Engineering. Prior to the competition, teams designed, built, programmed and tested a robot made entirely from LEGO parts. During the event, teams showed judges what they learned by running their robots through missions, solving problems and demonstrating core values such as teamwork and cooperation. All the lessons focused on the “Food Factor” theme. Youth learned what it takes to get food safely from field to table.
“Robots are a really engaging platform for students to practice using the engineering design process and to develop their creativity, teamwork and thinking skills,” said Holly Bignall, with ISU Extension Science, Engineering and Technology (E-SET). “Encouraging youth to develop these skills and enthusiasm for the field of engineering helps prepare them to become tomorrow’s leaders. Most importantly, challenges like this are a lot of fun.”
Two 4-H teams received awards. SG1 received second place in robot performance.
FIRE received second place in teamwork. The team had 10 members and was led by Michelle Dornbrier and Nicole Furst.
“In the first month, the team fought a lot,” said Dornbrier. “After that rough patch, the students really came together. Before we began on the day of the competition, we told them the only thing people will truly remember is the character of the team. That really paid off. They worked so well together.”
Iowa State’s College of Engineering has directed and sponsored the state championship for 10 years as part of its outreach and recruitment efforts. The championship also is sponsored by Rockwell Collins, the K. Engel Engineering Outreach Endowment, the Mark Guidry Foundation, General Mills and Loren Zachary, an Iowa State professor of aerospace engineering.
FIRST LEGO League is the creation of FIRST, a nonprofit organization based in New Hampshire that’s dedicated to inspiring young people to explore science and technology, and the LEGO Group, the Denmark-based toy manufacturer.
FLL is for children ages 9 -14. For information on how to register a team, visit http://www.firstlegoleague.org/.