Over the last two weekends of November, AURA ventured outside of VEX Robotics and into the FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL). AURA fielded a number of volunteers at both the Auckland Regional Tournaments as well as at the New Zealand Championship, enjoying the time we had with like-minded students who share our passion for engineering, technology and robotics.
FLL, like VEX, encourages students to get involved with science and technology. However, FLL’s ‘game’ comes in the form of a Challenge, which is based on scientific problems that exist in the real world. The 2011 FLL Challenge was ‘Food Factor’ which required students to address food safety issues and find ways to prevent food contamination.
The FLL Challenge consists of two parts: The Project and The Robot Game. In The Project, teams research and develop a solution to prevent food contamination, presenting their findings to judges on tournament day. Teams also build and programme an autonomous robot to complete missions on a game field which represents the real world food contamination situations.
AURA volunteers helped with a number of things, from refereeing matches to judging robot design and projects. The project judges watched each team present their solution to address issues of food contamination. There were mini-plays, songs and a team even developed an iPad app for their project! During this time teams were also given a team-building challenge, where the judges were able to see how each team engaged with FLL’s Core Values of learning, gracious professionalism, community involvement and having fun!
It was very exciting seeing students as young as 9 be so passionate about robotics. We saw some sophisticated robot designs (one team had great success with the use of omni-wheels!), quality programming and well-documented logbooks. These young students showed skills that will only further develop and become great assets to them in the science and technology fields.
We would like to thank Kiwi FIRST for giving us the opportunity volunteer. We had a great time at the FLL tournaments, meeting the future of New Zealand’s science and technology industry. It was good fun getting involved with something a little bit different to VEX and it was a pleasure being able to help out. The 2012 FLL Challenge is ‘Senior Solutions’ where teams find ways to improve the quality of life of seniors; AURA looks forward to getting involved with FLL again next season!