F(u)LL of FUN

Note: This article is hosted here for archival purposes only. It does not necessarily represent the values of the Iron Warrior or Waterloo Engineering Society in the present day.

Emotions were running high in the PAC on January 13 as forty teams from across Ontario gathered at the University of Waterloo to compete in the 2012 First Lego League (FLL) West Provincial Championships. Stakes were high as the winning team would represent Ontario in the World Championships in St. Louis, Mo. The FLL competition requires teams to compete in four distinct areas: competition, values, design, and project. These four areas expose the participants, aged nine to fourteen, to engineering and technology as well as develop teamwork, creative thinking, and problem-solving skills.

Each year, the FLL competition has a theme that is incorporated into the competition; this year’s theme was Senior Solutions. Senior Solutions required teams to create or improve an idea to help seniors and present it to a panel of judges.

Senior Solutions was visible on the obstacle table as robots were required to complete tasks such as quilting, bowling, gardening, and turning off an oven. Students had 12 weeks to create programs to complete as many obstacles as possible in order to score points. This portion of the FLL competition was high stress as teams subbed out teammates to reassemble robots and run new programs. Although high stress at times, the competition’s main focus was fun! Teams could be seen celebrating and congratulating each other throughout the day, something that would bring a smile to anybody’s face.

The other three areas of the FLL competition were held in MC. These areas focused on values, project, and design. Teams presented their Senior Solutions to a panel of judges and were asked a series of questions. Some teams opted to perform a skit while others kept to a science fair-style presentation.

Teams were also required to show the four core values of the FLL by completing an unknown task. Upon entering the values judging room, teams were presented with the task to retrieve a Lego square from the bottom of the tube. There was a catch, however: teams had to work with a box of Lego odds-and-ends and could not stick body parts down the tube.

The final area of judging was the design portion. This judging session allowed judges one-on-one time with the young participants. The participants were questioned about their code while they presented their robot’s capabilities.

After judging was completed, teams paired up and competed in the Alliance Activity. This action-packed activity combined teams to compete against other duos in a tournament-style competition.

At the closing ceremony, Lego trophies were awarded to teams who prominently stood out during the day. The Socialites were the lucky team who captured first place and were followed by the Shopaholics in second place. The Explosive LegoBots came in third. Although three teams stood out in the four main categories, all the participants returned home with a medal and two new HexBug friends.

Leave a Reply