Canterbury trio named IET FIRST LEGO League UK Champions

3 February 2014
IET Communications team
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FIRST LEGO League team, Invicta

Team Invicta holding the FIRST LEGO League UK Champions' trophy.

Students win a place at FLL World Festival in USA.

Three teens from the Simon Langton schools in Canterbury have won a trip to the FIRST LEGO League World Festival in the USA, after winning the National Final of the IET’s FIRST LEGO League (FLL) UK robotics competition.

The competition is one of the IET’s leading initiatives to encourage more young people to study STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects in order to pursue a career in engineering.

Oli English, Emma English and Carlos Purchase-Galarza, who made up the ‘Invicta’ team, beat off competition from 29 other teams at the event at Loughborough University on Saturday, 1 February to be crowned FLL UK Champions.

One of the winning team, 14-year-old Carlos, said: “It is going to be an amazing experience meeting teams from all around the world and having fun together in America. Last year we went to Germany [for the European Championships] so it will be interesting to see how the competition was different.”

Oli English, also 14, said: “It has been a thrilling journey for me. This is my third year competing so it is an amazing feeling to finally achieve our dream.”

Oli's sister, Emma, the only girl on the team, said: “It is my first year competing in FLL and I can't describe how excited I am to be representing the UK at such a huge event.”

Carlos’ father, John Purchase, said: “The team were elated to win – they are now bubbling with ideas to raise money for the trip to America, and to push the project and the robots further.”

Conservative MP for Loughborough Nick Morgan also attended the event, tweeting well wishes to local Loughborough team Bakewell Roboteers.

This year’s competition – entitled ‘Nature’s Fury’ – challenged teams from across the UK and Ireland to find a solution to tackle the effects of natural disasters. The Invicta team invented a hi-tech wristband for those affected by earthquakes, designed to help rescue workers find people trapped under rubble using radio waves.

Each team, made up of nine to 16-year-olds, was also tasked with building a LEGO MINDSTORMS robot that could undertake a number of small tasks, like lifting a small house, or moving pets and people to safety. Teams were judged on their ability to build and programme the robot, their presentation and research skills and how well they cooperated with each other and their competitors.

Ahmed Kotb, IET project manager for FLL, said: “All of the teams worked really hard in the run up to the tournament and we saw some impressive designs and robotics on the day. Team Invicta particularly wowed the judges with their innovative project, core values and well-designed robot.”

Each school had eight to 10 weeks to prepare for the regional events, with 24 regional tournaments taking place across the country since November 2013.

Expectations are high for this year’s finalists, after last year’s UK winners, Untitled-1, triumphed in America and were crowned the FIRST LEGO League World Champions – the first time a UK & Ireland team have won the World Festival.

The IET is the operating partner of FIRST LEGO League in the UK, as part of the Institution’s aim to introduce young people to the excitement of science, technology and engineering. This year, for the first time, FIRST LEGO League UK was sponsored by Bechtel.