Michelle Wong, of the fabulous BustaBurpee, attended our recent Teachers Network meeting that puts lego in a whole new light.
On Wednesday 26 February, I was fortunate enough to be among a group of fellow educators, attending another fantastic event hosted by the STEM champions at Peel Bright Minds. It promised to demonstrate robotics and coding using Lego Mindstorms robots EV3s.
Now I know absolutely nothing about LEGO robotics and coding, so I was quick to sign up to this free workshop, provided by Curtin STEM Outreach Program and run by the folks at Peel Bright Minds as part of their Peel Teachers Network. The team of young people, let by Cody Frick, a local from Pinjarra, and Samantha Goh, described what the project was all about before letting us loose with their robots.
So what is The FIRST LEGO LEAGUE -What if you could build a better world? Where would you begin? An international robotic competition, FLL brings team of children together from around the world to innovate and solve problems. They say in their advertising -, “you are part of a thriving community brimming with inspiration, creativity, and hope for a stronger, more sustainable future - one that's built better together. You have the power to help the cities, towns, and places you call home, reach new heights. With the support of the FIRST community, this is your opportunity to lead our future forward - and up.” With an inspirational message like that who could resist.
FLL is a STEM project for young people aged 9 to 16 years, working in teams of up to 10 with a teacher, parent or other mentor. Each year FLL releases a new challenge for teams. Teams build a robot using a LEGO® MINDSTORMS® kit that they programme to autonomously complete a series of missions on a specialised arena and to score as many points as possible. The technical aspect of the robot is assessed including design, programming and robustness.
The teams identify a real-world problem related to the theme, research the issues behind it and propose a solution. Through the project, teams learn more about the science behind the challenge theme. Whilst competing, the teams must demonstrate FLL Core Values including Gracious Professionalism, Cooperation and Competition, encouraging high quality work, unqualified kindness, respect and learning.
We learned the fundamentals of LEGO Mindstorms Robotics; through block coding (very simple and a lot of fun), we were introduced to the FIRST LEGO LEAGUE (FLL), and most importantly we learned how to get involved and apply for grants for the kits to become part of the FLL community. I did this the very next day for the Mandurah CoderDojo club and have my fingers crossed that we will soon be receiving a LEGO Mindstorms EV3 kit.
The project is open at all schools, community, libraries and home-schooling groups. I can envision the FFL clubs running themselves in schools, with Peel proving a force to be reckoned with! Samantha and Cody discussed hosting one of the WA FLL competitions in Peel in future.
Not only was this professional learning experience the best fun in a hands-on, building and coding robots kind of way, but we were also fed by the delicious team at Jarrah Infusion! I am constantly baffled as to why these events aren't hosting at an enormous venue, full of the teaching minds in the Peel region? I understand we're busy and exhausted, but I can honestly say that I have never left any of these Professional Learning seminars without feeling energised and inspired to continue growing as an educator.
I cannot encourage my fellow teachers strongly enough, to support the team and events organised by Peel Bright Minds and I hope to see you at an upcoming event.