Monkseaton Middle School was recently selected by the staff at North Tyneside’s City Learning Centre to take part in a very select event. Six Year 6 pupils took part in North Tyneside’s inaugural Lego challenge; the First Lego League (FLL). MMS pupils formed one of only five teams invited to the contest.
The team comprised; Nasim, James, Cole, John, Ryan and Jacob.
The competition is a growing phenomenon. It already takes place in numerous schools across the Atlantic and is spreading to all corners of the Lego-friendly world. North Tyneside schools are among the early adopters of the event in our region and it’s hoped that this year’s tournament will be the first of many. It’s been described as a cross between Robot Wars and The Great Egg Race (for those of you old enough to remember…).
The preparation began back in November. The team members have been giving up lunchtimes and attending after-school sessions to hone their skills. All participating teams receive an identical Lego kit which includes a series of technical Lego models to construct. Each model forms an interactive challenge which the team must overcome by programming their ‘robot’ (actually a Lego NXT block) to navigate the course and score points for each of the challenges. Each team’s overall score is calculated according to their success in the challenges along with their presentation skills, their teamwork ethic and their ability to demonstrate their awareness of the links between learning and technology.
Beating three out of four of their competitors in the early rounds gave the team a very optimistic outlook going into the afternoon’s challenges but one or two tiny misjudgements in their programming meant that they narrowly lost their semi-final and finished in a respectable third position overall on the day.
They received special praise from more than one of the judges for their ambitious efforts at challenges no other team would attempt; their integrity in upholding the rules of the competition and their polite and helpful attitude.
Chris Wilde, one of the event’s main organisers said, “All the young people involved today have had a fabulous learning experience… One of those days they’ll remember long after they leave school. Their technical and computing confidence has improved massively and hopefully they will develop a genuine thirst for this kind of learning in the future.”
Nasim, Monkseaton Middle’s chief programmer on the team, described the event as ”awesome”. He and the other team members are now planning to launch another FLL club where they pass on their new skills to next year’s participants.