Young robotics champions win trip to USA for world LEGO final

A team of students from West Linton Primary School in the Scottish Borders has won the IET’s FIRST® LEGO® League UK and Ireland Final and has been invited to compete in the FIRST® LEGO® League World Festival in St. Louis, USA.

Picture of the young robotics championship winners.

The science and technology challenge, aimed at 9-16 year olds, tasks teams to solve problems with the help of a robot.

The challenge

This year’s challenge required young people to identify a real-world problem in the way that waste is dealt with, investigate it and come up with an innovative solution. They also had to design, build and program an autonomous LEGO MINDSTORMS robot to tackle a series of waste-related missions. At the final, which was attended by Secretary of State for Education, Nicky Morgan, each team was tasked with designing and programming their robot and using it to solve problems and tasks.

The winners

The winning team of 11 and 12 year olds – the West Linton Wasps – impressed judges with their advanced robotics skills, as well as their project, which investigated the problem of wasted vegetables from school lunches. After finding that 60 per cent of vegetables were being wasted, the team introduced an incentive scheme where children earned tokens for eating vegetables, leading to prizes for their class. The school has seen a 47 per cent reduction in wasted vegetables and hopes to extend this scheme to other local schools. “We had an amazing, never to be forgotten day,” says Gail Jackson, one of the team’s coaches at the school’s Young Engineers and Science Club. “The children loved the whole experience and can’t wait to take our robot and project presentation to the world championships!” The West Linton Wasps won a place in the FIRST® LEGO® League UK final after seeing off fierce competition from teams across Scotland. They were crowned champions at the Dundee regional heat, which was organised by Lambda Jam and the RSE Young Academy of Scotland with support for Skills Development Scotland (SDS). The national skills agency is keen to see the competition grow as part of its Digital World campaign, aimed at changing attitudes and promoting careers in the digital technology sector.

About the competition

The IET is FIRST® LEGO® League’s UK and Ireland operational partner. Supporting the competition is part of the IET’s commitment to show young people the benefits of careers within STEM. “The IET runs competitions like the FIRST® LEGO® League in order to show young people how creative, exciting and rewarding engineering can be. In order to tackle the engineering skills gap we need more young people to enter the profession, and this can only happen if more school-age children are attracted to, and choose to study STEM subjects – competitions like FIRST® LEGO® League are therefore vital,” highlights IET President Naomi Climer.

FIRST LEGO League helps young competitors to develop skills in design and technology, programming and control, mathematics, research, strategic thinking and teamwork. For more information visit www.firstlegoleague.org.