Dartmouth FIRST Lego League stacks up

By Aditi Kirtikar | 11/12/12 4:30am

The aim is largely to “promote engineering and science from a young age,” says Kelly Mallory D’11 Th’13, the program coordinator this year. Every year there is a different theme, with the theme of this year's exhibition being "Senior Solutions."

The students are challenged to use problem-solving skills, creative thinking and teamwork to seek out solutions to everyday issues. The teams are then judged on not only their robotic solutions, but on their core values in terms of team work and presentation as well.

One group in particular, the Ninjassasins, sought to understand the hazards behind seniors falling down.

“My daughter is the only girl on the team,” said Celia Chen, a biology professor who serves as a mentor, coach and parent of a student on the Ninjassasins team.

“[There are] a core group of kids who have been on it for 3 years,” she continues, speaking of her daughter and friends from their local elementary school in Hartford, VT. Chen said that while their team did not end up coming up with a specific robotic invention, she felt that simply researching the issue and pulling it together as a resource was beneficial for the students.

The teams were judged on values like teamwork, the project itself and robot design for a total of 15 awards. A champion's award was awarded by one team who called themselves, "This Team is Up To No-Good".

Another event atendee was Franches Richmond Middle School teacher Adina Desaulniers, who has been involved with the FLL for the past 6 years and has a particular interest in promoting robotics to young girls.

“[I] took the idea of Legos and programming to reach middle school girls with the idea that science and engineering is cool,” she said. A coordinator for five different teams, Desaulniers proudly mentioned that she was working with one all-female team, and one with a large female majority as well.

“Robotics in the Upper Valley is growing,” Desaulniers said, and this is clearly reflective in the increased participation — the number of teams grew from 16 last year to 27 this year. We can only hope that these trends will continue, encouraging STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields and education in general in the younger generation.

Aditi Kirtikar