On Saturday, December 5th, over 200 robotics students ranging in age from 1st - 8th grade swarmed the Learning Curve at the Central Library for the 3rd Annual FIRST LEGO League (FLL) Qualifying Tournament! Hosted jointly by the Learning Curve and TPF4Y since 2013, the event was created to offer a robotics tournament location that is accessible to inner city FLL teams.
The day began with opening ceremonies that led right into judging sessions for the 14 FLL teams in attendance. Teams present to groups of judges in each of three categories:
- Core Values - Teams are interviewed and observed to assess how well they have adhered to the Core Values, which are the cornerstones of the FLL program. By embracing the Core Values, FLL students learn that friendly competition and mutual gain are not separate goals, and that helping one another is the foundation of teamwork.
- Project - Teams present the solution they came up with for this year's challenge, as well as the research they did in order to formulate their solution. Teams may perform a skit, a PowerPoint presentation, songs, or choose another creative way to share their project solution.
- Robot Design - Robot design judging can be compared to an engineering design review in the real world. Teams work toward having the robot that best meets the requirement of completing programmed robot "missions." While the competition is a good way of assessing the best robots, points are also based on how well a team can explain their design and all the things they considered while developing it.
The tournament also housed a Junior FIRST LEGO League (Jr.FLL) Expo, where teams of younger students can show off their LEGO models and present their ideas to reviewers. The Expo took place during the morning, with the High Five Ceremony for the 14 teams wrapping up around noon.
The afternoon was filled with the actual robot competition for this year's FLL challenge, Trash Trek, which asks teams to explore the hidden but fascinating world of trash, from collection, to sorting, to smart production, and reuse.
Eight awards were given out during the closing ceremonies, two of which were presented by Mayor Ballard, who has generously supported the event with his attendance since the first year. Every student at the tournament also received a LEGO kit, donated by Ben Glenn, founder of The Chalk Guy Christmas LEGO Drive, which he coordinates with his young daughters.
A huge thank you to the 50 volunteers who came out to help run the event - we couldn't have done it without you! And congrats to all the teams on a great day of robotics fun!