Six girls, one Lego robot
A group of Socorro Girl Scouts are headed up to Albuquerque to test their robotic skills at the 4th annual New Mexico FIRST Lego League Championship Tournament this Saturday.
FIRST is an acronym for “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.”
Drawing student teams from around the state, the FLL event includes approximately 48 teams, ages 9-14, and a Jr. FLL event includes approximately 20 teams, ages 6-9. The Socorro team is comprised of six Girl Scouts; They are known collectively as The Twisters.
Team coach Gerry Klinglesmith said FLL teams build Lego robots and develop research projects based on a real-world challenge that changes annually.
“This year the challenge is natural disasters, and the girls chose tornadoes as their mission,” Klinglesmith said.
The playing field sits on a four-by-eight plywood table. The team has to program the robot to accomplish the mission, such as picking up an ambulance or a supply truck and placing it down where it should go in the tornado scenario they are given. Every turn and action of the Lego Mindstorm robot must be programmed ahead of time.
“For instance, they have to make a judgement on how far the robot must go in a straight line before it has to turn, then when to make it stop, pick up a Lego truck, and carry it to other side of the playing field,” Klinglesmith said. “When they register the team will get a map that covers table and enough Lego pieces and objects to finish the project. Judging is in three categories.”
The team has only a few minutes to program the robot.
The FLL is a world-wide competition. The top team at the Albuquerque event can go on the international tournament.
“There are two main principles that the girls can learn, and both have to do with teamwork and cooperation,” she said. “‘Coopertition’ is cooperating with your teammates in a competition. The other is ‘Gracious Professionalism’.”
FLL Core Values are also stressed, which Klinglesmith said are in agreement with Girls Scouts values.
“Core Values is all about working as a team, learning from each other and sharing experiences and solutions,” Klinglesmith said.
The event is held at Albuquerque Academy, 6400 Wyoming NE, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
A minimum of 120 participants from around the state are expected to attend.