schoolchild's hand adding lego block to robotic model they have built

  • 19 December 2019
  • 2 min read

Over 40 schoolchildren from across the south battled it out at the University of Portsmouth as part of a technical challenge using Lego robotics kits.

Schools and colleges including George Abbot School, Miltoncross Academy and ACS Cobham School attended the Portsmouth area heat of the FIRST Lego League event.

The global scheme is designed to encourage young people to engage with real-world issues and to use their creativity and problem-solving skills to overcome them.

Every year, FIRST Lego League releases a Challenge, which is based on a real-world scientific topic. This year's brief, City Shaper, invited participants to consider themes around architecture and the world we live in.

In teams of up to ten, the youngsters were asked to complete a variety of missions using familiar Lego construction blocks, along with autonomous, programmable Lego Mindstorm robotics kits.

In advance of the tournament, the teams were supplied with mission packs of Lego and a large gaming mat with which to design, build and program their robots to complete tasks.

On tournament day, the teams competed against each other – and against the clock – to complete their missions as accurately, efficiently and quickly as possible.

They were also judged by professional engineers and scientists, from companies including Airbus, on how they built and programmed their robots, and on their presentation of research projects relating to the theme.

The winners of the Portsmouth area heat were a team called Ecolution from ACS Cobham International School, who will go on to compete against nearly 40 other teams at the national finals in Bristol in February.

ACS School teacher Karolina Hammer said:

This event is all about perseverance, teamwork, problem-solving, critical-thinking, encouraging each other and cheering one another. It gives skills that won’t be learnt in classrooms. The older children in the team were brilliant mentors for the younger ones, which worked really well. It’s great for all of them to take part in such an inclusive event with team members’ ages varying from 10 to 16.

Karolina Hammer, Teacher at ACS Cobham School

The event took place at University of Portsmouth’s Future Technology Centre, a £12 million development that opened in July 2019.

Organiser David Hill, Technology Outreach Coordinator at the University, said: “The Lego Challenge is always a really great day for all involved. It’s lovely to see the students collaborate well together to complete their missions.

“This year they had to think about how cities and buildings grow, thrive, and change, as well as thinking about topics like accessibility, sustainability, and responsiveness to disasters. The judging panel spent far longer than usual deliberating because the teams were all excellent and the overall winner was a close-call.”

To get involved in next year’s challenge go to the First Lego League website.

Elsewhere, year seven students from nine local schools recently visited the campus and took part in a Scavenger Hunt in the University Library, searching for QR codes to help them find the answer to various University of Portsmouth related questions. The students learnt about halls of residence, societies they could join, as well as some of the University’s current research projects. The students said that seeing the Library was one of their ‘most enjoyed’ moments of the day, along with getting to work with the Student Ambassadors.

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