29 Aug The WA Lego League Robotics Club
Written by John Mills ’18
The Westminster Academy Lego League Robotics Club is now entering its second year, and it is still accepting applicants. Available for grades four through six, the League is a FIRST robotics program, joining the middle and high school FIRST teams, making robotics programs now available for all ages of students at Westminster Academy. We sat down with Mrs. Moore—co-mentor of the League, with Mrs. Shyne—to get the scoop on the WA Lego League.
“Not only is the League about building and programming robots, as you’d expect,” Mrs. Moore commented, “but it had three primary parts.” The first and most apparent part of the Lego League is the “building and programming of a robot using Lego Mindstorms, which perform given tasks for the year’s assignment,” Mrs. Moore reported. Some robots are from Lego’s instructions, but kids can add attachments and customize and make up their own. Each year, the organization is given a theme, or task, for the project and the competition. Following last year’s animal ally tasks, “this year’s is rumored to be hydrodynamics.”
However, “members do all kinds of things, not just work on the robots.” There is more to Lego League than just robots. Students also research, create, and propose a creative, non-robot solution to a real world problem, selected based on the year’s theme. Since last year’s theme was “animal ally,” and our high school team is Shark Attack, team members researched and created a possible solution to shark depopulation. Public education that sharks are not evil was their solution, “though they are scary, they’re important to the ecosystem.” They also started a FedEx petition to stop shark fin shipping and poaching. Their proposition was presented in front of the whole lower school in the form of a creative, comedic skit.
The same “core values” promoted by FIRST in the high school team are promoted here in Part Three. Members learn lessons about teamwork like gracious professionalism, cooperation, and critical thinking. Additionally, they do a lot of team building exercises. The robot is the draw in, but there are so many other educational aspects for kids to start them on their STEM path. “There are things for everyone to do if you’re interested.”