On Tuesday 16 January, 90 students aged 9–16 years old, from schools across East Anglia, took part in the first ever Cambridge regional tournament for the FIRST® LEGO® League at the University of Cambridge’s Engineering Department. The teams were competing for the exciting chance to represent their region at the FIRST® LEGO® League UK and Ireland Final, and potentially go on to take part in the World Festival in the USA.
The tournament is the culmination of weeks of preparation, where the students have worked in teams to design, build and programme a robot, using a LEGO® MINDSTORMS® kit, to create an innovative solution to a real-world problem. This year’s HYDRO DYNAMICSSM Challenge got the students thinking about how we should find, transport, use or dispose of water.
Andrew Smyth, Aerospace Engineer at Rolls-Royce and Great British Bake Off Finalist in 2016, who MC’ed the event said
“It has been a really inspirational and fun day – events like FIRST® LEGO® League are so important to show how valuable engineering is in society, and encouraging young people to pursue a career in STEM“.
Team ‘Aquarius’ from Colchester Grammar School were crowned Overall Champions after impressing the judges with their amazing robot design and project idea for recycling rainwater to minimise waste. They will go through to compete against 46 other regions in the UK and Ireland Final in Bristol in February.
Team ‘BingBangBong’ from Fulbourn Primary School won the Judges Award and ‘Pizza, the Cambridge Robot’ from the Cambridge Home Educating Families were victorious in the robot game. Awards were also given to teams from Bedford Modern School and Ipswich School for developing the most creative project and robot design, respectively.
The event was managed by Form the Future CIC and sponsored by Qualcomm Technologies International, Ltd., whose sponsorship helped to fund participation. The League aims to introduce young people to technology and engineering in an exciting way, and develop the key skills that are crucial for their future careers.
As Qualcomm state in their 2016 sustainability report, they recognise the importance of inspiring engineers and inventors of tomorrow. “We recognize the importance of inspiring the engineers and inventors of tomorrow to create the technology that will shape and improve our future. Through our support of FIRST®, we are helping create a workforce of young inventors with much needed technical, leadership and problem solving skills.“1
The FIRST® LEGO® League is the world’s largest STEM competition with over 250,000 young people (in 32,000 teams) across more than 80 countries taking part. The IET are the operational partners in the UK and Ireland, where the FIRST® LEGO® League is part of a wider education programme that aims to inspire and attract the engineers of tomorrow. 47 FIRST® LEGO® League regional tournaments will be taking place across the UK and Ireland this year.
Anna Aldred, STEM Outreach Project Manager at Form the Future CIC, said
“The participating teams have been the real stars of today, they have shown never-ending enthusiasm and passion for their HYDRO DYNAMICSSM projects and their LEGO® robots. It is such a delight to have been given the opportunity to work alongside a diverse and dynamic team of inspirational STEM professionals to make this first ever Cambridge tournament of the FIRST® LEGO® League happen. This is the start of many years of the Cambridge FIRST® LEGO® League regional tournament! “.
If you’re interested in getting involved with our STEM outreach activities, please contact Anna at firstname.lastname@example.org.