Students around the world are discovering it’s more fun to design a robot than it is to play with one – and having the hardest fun they’ve ever had! FIRST Lego League (FLL), a national robotics program, has experienced dramatic growth since its inception in 1998. In FLL, student teams design and program an autonomous robot using the Lego Mindstorms set and create a solution to a real-world scientific problem. Teams compete in regional qualifiers by completing tasks with their robot on a thematic playing surface, then advance to state competitions and, if lucky, the World Festival (regions are selected by lottery for the World Festival).
FLL helps young people discover the fun in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) as they work to solve real-world problems using robotics. FLL participants are 50 percent more likely to attend college and twice as likely to major in science or engineering. More than that, FLL fosters teamwork and leadership – the program has even coined several terms. Dr. Woodie Flowers,FIRST National Advisor, created the term “Gracious Professionalism” – a way of doing things that emphasizes respect and that competition and mutual gain are not separate notions. Actually, FLL teams don’t “compete” – they participate in “Coopertition,” displaying respect in the face of fierce competition and cooperating with each other. A parent testimonial puts it best, that “being bright is not the same as leadership.”
As the program grows, so does the impact. FLL 2011 featured 19,800 teams from over 50 countries. 2011 regional qualifiers took place not only in the Quad Cities, but also Cedar Falls, Council Bluffs, Des Moines, Ottumwa, Sioux City, Marshalltown, and Solon. Rivermont Collegiate is eagerly jumping on board to expand the impact of FLL in the Quad Cities! Due to success of the program in Rivermont 5th grade last year, it has been expanded to 5th - 8th grade for 2012-13. A dedicated room has been equipped with 9 computers and devoted to the robotics teams. Last year, two teams of Rivermont 5th graders competed at the regional qualifier at the Putnam, with one team bringing home the Core Values Inspiration Award. Coaches Rachel Chamberlain and Leigh Ann Schroeder saw tremendous growth and maturity in the teams, not only learning new STEM skills, but demonstrating skills in teamwork, goal setting, compromise, and problem solving. Due to huge student interest, students in 6th – 8th grade are now invited to join the fun – Rivermont will have four FLL teams this year.
“It’s one thing to see a kid in college doing it, but to see 13, 14, 15, 16-year olds writing code, building robots, enthusiastic about life, mathematics, science, and engineering…20 years from now, these kids are the leaders of industry.” –will.i.am, Frontman, The Black Eyed Peas
Note: FLL season officially kicked off August 28th. The regional tournament in Davenport will be held Saturday, December 15th at the Putnam Museum. This year’s theme is Senior Solutions – can FLL teams improve the quality of life for seniors by helping them continue to be independent, engaged, and connected in their communities? For additional information on the FIRST LEGO League, visit www.FirstLegoLeague.org.
Rivermont Collegiate, located in Bettendorf, is the Quad Cities’ only private, independent college prep school for students in preschool through 12th grade.
For additional information on Rivermont, contact Rachel Chamberlain at (563) 359-1366 ext. 302 or
Visit us on the web at www.rvmt.org!