LEGO, building the engineers of the future brick by brick

Lego bricksThe FIRST LEGO League; a global science and technology competition, returned to the University of Birmingham, on Thursday 8 January for the 2015 West Midlands regional tournament.

LEGO has been undergoing something of a renaissance of late, with the LEGO movie being the fourth top grossing film worldwide of 2014. Now being used to build robots, the plastic brick has found a new lease of life as an educational tool for the 21st century.

Teams of school children aged between 9 and 16 were given a set of challenges surrounding a real world issue. They had to design, programme and build an autonomous robot using LEGO that could complete several missions.

Seventeen teams presented their research project and took part in a series of challenges designed to show off their robots’ capabilities at the University of Birmingham’s School of Electronic, Electrical and Systems Engineering. The teams were assessed on their research, robot design, teamwork and the performance of the robot in the missions and challenges.

Dr Tim Jackson, a Senior Lecturer at the University of Birmingham’s School of Electronic, Electrical and Systems Engineering said: ‘The FIRST LEGO League provides an exciting opportunity for children to set their imagination free while applying what they learn in science and engineering to the wider world. The promotion of science and engineering subjects within schools is important to providing a well-educated, technically-trained workforce suitable for a knowledge-based economy’.

The West Midlands heat of the tournament was held in the Munrow Sports Centre at the University of Birmingham with teams coming from schools in Worcestershire, Warwickshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire and the West Midlands.

The winners of this heat were the Cedar Engineering Club who will go on to the UK and Ireland national finals, at which a winning team will be selected to represent the UK at the world final in St Louis, USA.


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