The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) FIRST® LEGO® League Challenge, a global science and technology tournament for 9 – 16 year olds, is returning to Cambridge in 2021 and is welcoming applications from teams across the region. Now in its fourth year, the Cambridge tournament is funded by Qualcomm Incorporated, including the provision of robotics equipment and sponsored places to 12 teams from deprived areas across the county, enabling them to take part in the exciting robotics competition.
For the first time ever, the tournament will be hosted virtually and tournament hosts – Qualcomm Technologies International Ltd., the Department of Engineering and Conscious Communications – and the IET are busy innovating the process to find new ways to make the tournament as engaging and fun as the usual physical event format. As always, the involvement of the children and teams taking part is of top priority, therefore to help teams as they prepare for the tournament, the IET has also developed a rigorous guide for team coaches to enable them to deliver the coaching sessions safely and effectively.
Set to take place on Tuesday 23 March, the STEM tournament will see 25 teams from across Cambridgeshire compete for the chance to progress to the national final in July 2021. The IET FIRST® LEGO® League Challenge is a global initiative, with over 67,000 teams getting involved across 110 countries every year. From now until their tournament dates, teams of up to 10 young people will be working with their team coaches to prepare for the Challenge.
The theme of this year’s FIRST® LEGO® League Challenge is RePLAY, which is based around the importance of play and being more active. Students are challenged to develop a number of key technology and life-based skills through the four components of FIRST® LEGO® League Challenge: the Robot Game, Robot Design, Core Values and the Innovation Project.
For the Robot Game, teams are required to put their teamwork and creativity to the test as they design and programme a LEGO® MINDSTORMS® or SPIKE Prime robot to complete 15 missions on a unique LEGO® challenge mat.
The Robot Design aspect of the challenge involves teams presenting their robots to the judges and explaining their design process for building the robot and the code they have written to programme it.
The FIRST® signature set of Core Values lie at the heart of the competition; teams are required to demonstrate these values throughout all aspects of the competition. They are: Inclusion, Discovery, Teamwork, Innovation, Fun and Impact.
For the Innovation Project, teams must identify a problem connected to the annual theme, RePLAY, come up with a solution and then present their ideas to the judges at the tournament. This year, for example, teams could provide a solution to the challenge of ensuring more people in the community are keeping fit and active.
James Chapman, VP & GM, Voice/Music/Wearables Qualcomm Technologies International, Ltd., comments: “The power of education and equal opportunity is incredibly important and we are enormously proud to sponsor the IET FIRST® LEGO® League Challenge in Cambridge for the fourth year running. Getting an experience of programming, in a friendly but competitive environment, is a unique opportunity for many young people. As well as the STEM skills that young people develop through the Challenge, every year we have been impressed by the collaboration, innovation and sportsmanship demonstrated by the teams involved as these are all skills needed for the world of work.”
Lowri Walton, IET Education Manager – FIRST® LEGO® League, said: “During these uncertain and challenging times, we are committed more than ever to delivering the life-changing experiences that FIRST® LEGO® League offers to young people. Education has taken a real hit this year due to the pandemic and we are determined that this Challenge will not be disrupted too. At the IET, the safety of our teams, volunteers, and staff members is the top priority. Although slightly different to previous tournaments, I am confident that this year will be just as enjoyable, successful and rewarding for everybody involved.”
FIRST® LEGO® League Challenge 2020-21 teams are welcomed from a range of backgrounds; from schools to youth or community groups, or just groups of friends who share a passion for technology. For more information on how to register please visit: https://education.theiet.org/first-lego-league-programmes/register/fll/.