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Local Team Success at First Lego League Ireland

Updated: Sep 19, 2023


First Lego League 2023 Challenge - Superpowered


STEAM learning enables us to utilise creative strategies to provide deep learning through tangible, practical evidence-based activities. By developing and harnessing learners’ creativity for innovation and transferable innovative thinking, we support them in effective problem-finding, solution raising and communication skills. This aligns well with the aims of the First Lego League and their core values. So in the 2022-23 academic year, we partnered with Foróige to facilitate the first team from Cahersiveen that would compete in the First Lego League Ireland competition.


First LEGO League (FLL) is a worldwide, project-based challenge for young people to encourage an interest in real world themes and acquisition of key skills through LEGO-based robotics. FLL is an annual competition that releases a new challenge based on a real-world scientific theme every year. The 2022-23 year ‘Superpowered’ challenge asked participants to explore their energy journey and asked ‘how can you reimagine a better energy future?’


The competition consists of two parts. The first part involves a robotics game where the team must demonstrate their robot’s ability to perform the relevant challenge tasks. The second part requires teams to present their innovative projects that demonstrate how they could impact the future of energy. Each team presents ways to improve on an existing invention, explore new sources for energy production, or consider other ideas related to the theme.


Under the CLÁR 2021: Innovation Measure, Department of Rural and Community Development fund and as as part of our CLÁR Innovation Include Labs with SMARTlab Skelligs and Living Iveragh, we collaborated with Foróige and recent arrival to Cahersiveen, Olha Burdo, an experienced STEM educator and First Lego League Coach. She has prepared teams for various robotics competitions since 2017 and was an FLL mentor for six consecutive seasons.


‘’These robotics competitions are an international programme whose goal is to attract as many young people and children as possible to science, help them develop social skills and show that they can influence the future, that they are our future.’’- Olha Burdo

The six-person team, supported by Olha Burdo, created a project called ‘Chairger’, a rocking chair that generates electricity. Their main idea was to replace at least 25% of regular chairs with Chairgers in schools and utilise rocking on a chair for a sustainable purpose. Chairgers not only produce sufficient electrical energy to charge electronic devices like phones and laptops, but also aim to enhance productivity in the classroom.


Some students find it challenging to remain seated for extended periods and tend to fidget with pens, doodle, or sway in their chairs. By substituting conventional chairs, learners are given a chance to concentrate on their tasks without disturbing their classmates and teachers. Moreover, the team offered a range of products for both home and office use.

The team's presentation of the 'Chairger' project [Photos: Olha Burdo]

The team engaged in three main activities during each session: discussion,

project, and robot work. They started with the project work, where they

discussed details, made corrections, and determined additional studies to be

carried out. After the discussion, they set a goal for the project and assigned

roles to each team member. The team was typically split into two groups: one

focusing on the project and the other working with the robot.


Each team member had the opportunity to try out different roles, such as engineer,

designer, or programmer, during a single meeting. The project team researched, gathered relevant information, and created a presentation. The engineers tackled the robot games challenge by designing, redesigning, and programming the robots. They carefully planned strategies and made attempts to accomplish various missions. After the session, the team reconvened at the shared table to review the

outcomes.


The semi-finals took place in two stages: ‘Robot Game’ and ‘Innovative Project’. The judges also evaluated core values among the team, including relationships between players, their public position and desire to change the world. Inclusiveness is one of the most important aspects of this competition.

The first competition of the team took place in Galway. Despite some last-minute amendments to their project, they had a great experience thanks to the fantastic FLL organisers and volunteers who provided encouragement and support. Their excitement persisted throughout the presentation as they demonstrated the prototype’s functionality, discussed the robot and its game strategy, and delivered a perfect performance. The robot game was run three times after evaluating the project. The team did a great job coordinating and preparing for the robot game, resulting in impressive achievements. They even earned first place in the best innovative project category and secured a spot in the finals.

Testing phase in Galway [Video: Olha Burdo]


The final competition took place in Dublin three weeks after the semi-finals,

with 23 teams from all over Ireland participating. Each team had to present their

project and compete in the robot game. Our team achieved an impressive result

based on their performance in the races and knockout matches, taking second

place in both categories.


Among the many benefits of the First Lego League is the development of teamwork skills in real-world application. One of the main components of the competition is core values, which encourage participants to see and appreciate each person as an individual and to value their potential. It is a vital skill for the future that helps develop communication and collaboration skills.


Participating in the FLL can be a life-changing experience for youth, providing

opportunities to enhance their knowledge, develop self-confidence, and build

long-lasting friendships. We look forward to supporting a team in the 2023/24 First Lego League competition!






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