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Tomorrow’s Scientists Take On Lego

Tomorrow’s Scientists Take On Lego

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OVER 160 PRIMARY AND HIGH-SCHOOL CHILDREN REPRESENTING SCHOOLS FROM ACROSS THE REGION CONVERGED AT CQUNIVERSITY TOWNSVILLE TO PARTICIPATE IN THE CAMPUS’ SECOND ANNUAL FIRST® LEGO® LEAGUE (FLL) REGIONAL HEAT.

The FIRST® LEGO® League event was a test of strategy and innovation, a spirited competition in which teams used LEGO® Education Mindstorm kits to compete in the ‘INTO ORBIT’ Space simulation challenge.

Event organiser and CQUniversity Education Lecturer, Dr Colin Baskin, said the concept was simple. “Robots are models of living things with which children can experiment without adult interference or sanction. They are a particularly motivating technology.

“In this case, students worked in teams to invent, design, fabricate and build robots from scratch, drawing on all their interpersonal and intrapersonal communication skills and testing learner literacies in mathematical, scientific, and technological core curriculum areas. It was wonderful to see these young scientists and engineers really getting into the spirit of the Into Orbit Challenge, negotiating and solving concrete, complex, real-world issues that are related to deep human needs.”

Dr Baskin said teams worked together to construct and engineer their robots before completing 10 robot challenge missions in a two-and-a-half minute timeframe. The game-based framework was a kinaesthetic challenge and the research project provided the investigative challenge. Teams were required to research and present on ‘space issues’ such as loneliness, isolation, health and well-being.

“One team of 11 year-olds from Townsville Junior Grammar designed, built and operated a functioning ‘hologram’ machine to enable space travellers to communicate with family and friends at home. Another composite team from St Clare’s and St Anthony’s wrote and performed a ‘Space Rap’ highlighting the important role of 3D printing and Gamma irradiation in the health and survival of astronauts in transit,” Dr Baskin said.

“We don’t know what the next generation of Nobel laureates, research scientists and engineers look like. We don’t know where to go to find them. FIRST® LEGO® League does what sports has done for so many generations now and brings them together in the spirit of creative competition, opening doors and growing potential. It harvests skills, it is an invitation to young people with the right stuff to take on the challenge of future sustainability as scientists, doctors, engineers, fabricators, and professional trades people.”

Townsville Grammar School’s G.E.A.R Team was crowned Overall Champions at the keenly contested event which saw them head to Brisbane for the State Championships in November.

“Under tournament guidelines the top five Townsville teams earned advance passage to the State Championship in Brisbane including the Mundingburra Magnetic Masterminds (Mundingburra State School), No Signal (Annandale Christian College), Space Savers (St Clare’s and St Anthony’s) and the TGS All Stars (Townsville Junior Grammar),” said Dr Baskin.

Dr Baskin said he was overwhelmed with the response to this year’s competition and looked forward to seeing it continue to grow in Townsville.

“Overall the event was a huge success,” he said.

“To see so many children on campus participating in the Challenge while embracing the core values of the tournament was brilliant,” he added.

“FIRST® LEGO® League provides authentic STEM learning opportunities for thousands of kids every year. It fosters a sense of belonging, it celebrates shared accomplishment, and offers the student a chance to take up the role of scientist in the school and global environment. Above all, it is fun”.

 

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