All Charged Up, a new FIRST© Lego League team from Chickahominy Middle School, is preparing for the First Lego League 2011 challenge, Food Factor.
In this year’s challenge released September 2nd, teams are researching the preservation of food and developing new methods that prevent spoiling. Like all FIRST competitions, the middle schoolers will also program robots to solve real-world problems.
Chickahominy Middle School is no stranger to the FLL competition. Last year the team Mechanicsville Mechanics was based at the school, until they graduated and moved on to high school. A new team was formed so students at the school would still be able to compete in the FLL. The new team is led by Faisal, whose child attends the school. His child formerly attended Pearson’s Corner Elementary, where he experienced working with robotics.
“[Last] year a group of kids from Pearson’s Corner Elementary were involved with LEGO Robotics in [one of their classes] and competed in a robotic tournament. Almost all of the parents have shown an interest in keeping their kids engaged in robotics through the middle school years as well,” said Faisal.
So Faisal worked with the principal of Chickahominy and the parents of last year’s team to form the team All Charged Up. The team consists of 6 children, and they are working together on the Food Factor challenge.
The FIRST Lego League Competition Challenges Kids to Solve Real-world Problems
The challenge has 3 parts: Project, Robot Game, and Core Values. The Core Values define how the team should behave with each other and other teams, plus how they should approach the competition and project. They encourage the team members to do the work, with the guidance of mentors and parents. Competition and cooperation go hand-in-hand in the form of Coopertition.
The team members first identify a problem by looking at a specific food and how it could be spoiled or contaminated on its journey from harvest to someone’s plate. Then they will brainstorm a new idea for a solution or an improvement to an existing method that addresses that problem. Companies should be keeping an eye on these kids and their ideas; some FIRST teams have applied for and gotten patents. The ideas generated by the FLL teams could change the food industry!
The other part of the challenge is the robot game. This requires the team to set up a specially-designed table, called the field, where the robot will operate. They then build and program a LEGO MINDSTORMS robot to autonomously complete missions on the field for points. These missions will guide the children through the stages of food harvesting, traveling, and sale with the use of First Lego League robotics. Their robot demonstrates its abilities at a regional tournament held by their local FLL district.
For the Chickahominy Middle School students, that district is the Virginia/DC FIRST Lego League. Regional tournaments occur throughout Virginia and in Washington, D.C. Official locations and dates for the tournaments will be posted October 19th. All Charged Up will be competing in the Capital region.
The goal of the tournaments is to win the Champion’s Award and get sent to the VA/DC FLL 2011 Championship Tournament on December 3-4, 2011 in Harrisonburg. Even if they don’t win the Champion’s Award, teams can win other awards and, best of all, come away from the tournament with a sense of accomplishment for their hard work over the past few months.
Flexicell is cheering for All Charged Up and the other FLL team we sponsor, Tobor Fanatics. If you’re involved with an FLL team, please comment below and share your experience!