Penn State Berks gears up for FIRST® LEGO® League Competition
Competitors (grades 4-8) will learn to program LEGO® robots to perform a series of tasks.
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Most people have all bought the sets and watched the movie, but it’s unlikely that they have ever programmed with LEGO pieces to perform a series of complex tasks. Well, that’s exactly what’s going to take place during the FIRST LEGO® League Challenge, and Penn State Berks is jumping right in to be a part of this exciting competition.
On August 30, 2016, this season's Challenge, ANIMAL ALLIESSM, will be released. Registration will take place throughout the month of October and there will be a single championship tournament on January 21, 2017, with a snow date of February 4, 2017. Each team is limited to 10 members, composed of fourth through eighth graders, and the event will be limited to 24 teams.
Penn State Berks faculty and students, as well as volunteers from the local community, will help to run and to judge the tournament and referee the robot competition. In future seasons, the region will have both qualifying tournaments and a final championship tournament.
Snapology, which provides interactive, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics) activities for children in the Reading area, approached Penn State Berks about partnering with FIRST® to bring a local FIRST LEGO® League competition to Berks County. Snapology will provide a space with a competition table for teams to practice with their robots. They will also offer mentoring sessions to help teams learn the aspects of programming and robotics using LEGO Mindstorms®.
“Penn State Berks has always been interested in supporting the local community and engages in all types of activities that demonstrate that,” states Kathleen M. Hauser, Instructor in Engineering at Penn State Berks, who is heading up the project. “Penn State Berks has the opportunity to give back to our local community while generating excitement about STEAM fields at the same time. We all benefit from these type of partnerships.”
Hauser explains that each Challenge, based on a real-world scientific topic, has three parts: Robot Game, Project, and Core Values. Teams of students, with at least two adult coaches, participate in the Challenge by programming an autonomous robot to score points on a themed playing field (Robot Game) and develop a solution to a problem identified by the Challenge (Project), all guided by the FIRST LEGO® League Core Values. Teams may then attend an official tournament, hosted by a FIRST LEGO® League Partners.
Hauser says that Penn State Berks students will learn the value of sharing their time at an event that engages the children of our community in a STEAM activity. “We are engaging our youth in the science, technology, engineering, arts, and math fields and having a whole lot of fun doing it.”
Penn State Berks will be looking for volunteers from the local community to help judge and referee the tournament. The college is also seeking corporate sponsors from the community to help subsidize the cost of the tournament. “As our district grows, we will be looking to partner with sponsors who are interested in supporting local teams with registration fees or the cost of purchasing a robot,” states Hauser.