engineering careers  FIRST LEGO League UK Final
engineering careers  FIRST LEGO League UK Final

A team of home schooled students from Berkshire, Hampshire and Oxfordshire won the UK final of the IET’s FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL) on Sunday 1 February, which was attended by Secretary of State for Education, Nicky Morgan. The winning team will now go to the USA to compete in the World FLL Festival in St. Louis.

The competition, which aims to get more young people interested in engineering and technology, saw 35 teams from across the UK showcase their skills on Sunday 1 February. Teams were judged on their ability to design, build and programme a LEGO MINDSTORMS robot, their presentation and research skills and how well they cooperate with each other and their competitors. They were also tasked with presenting an original idea related to redesigning how we gather knowledge and skills in the 21st century.

The winning team C14 impressed judges with their advanced robotics skills, as well as their project, which was a game that educates young people studying Geography about natural disasters.

Team members were Joseph Cornmell (16 from Hermitage), Robbie Cornmell (14 from Hermitage), Nathan Rivett (14 from Basingstoke), Daniel Rivett (13 from Basingstoke), Leon Quelch (16 from Cowley), Leiden Quelch (13 from Cowley), Toby Sage (16 from Hook), Gabriel Hunt (17 from Winchester) and Niko Bessey (14 from Reading).

Secretary of State for Education and Loughborough MP, Nicky Morgan, attended the event and presented the Insight into Learning award. She said: “It’s fantastic to attend this event in Loughborough and to see so many young people taking part. We need to see more young people engaging in competitions like FLL which encourage them to consider careers in engineering and technology, so that the UK economy continues to be supported by a booming industry.”

The team said: “It feels incredible. We are all still in shock. We never expected to do this well, but we’re now really looking forward to going to America to take part in the World Festival.

“Our project is a game that will help students to learn about natural disasters for a Geography exam. Like FLL, our game helps you learn, but as it is fun it makes you want to keep learning. We enjoyed researching natural disasters as part of last year’s FLL project, but we were disappointed when we started to study the subject for our Geography GCSE that the teaching resources were not very inspirational. We felt it would be more engaging if it was taught in a different way, via a game.”

This year’s competition is especially exciting because, in addition to the generous ongoing support from Bechtel, Intelligent Automation and Loughborough University, the IET has also joined forces with Disney. To mark the release of their forthcoming animation about robotics, Big Hero 6, (released 30 January 2015) Disney will be supporting the competition. The story of Big Hero 6 reflects the robotics, team working and creative thinking themes of FLL.

Each team, of up to ten 9 to 16 year olds, were tasked with designing and programming a LEGO MINDSTORMS robot and using it to solve problems and tasks.

President of the IET, William Webb, said: “The IET runs competitions like the FIRST LEGO League in order to show young people the merits of engineering. In order to tackle the engineering skills gap we need more graduates to enter the profession, and this can only happen if more school-age children are attracted to, and choose to study STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects.”

Expectations are even higher this year as, for the last two years, the UK and Ireland finalists have gone on to be crowned FIRST LEGO League World Champions at the global final in America.

The IET is FLL’s UK operational partner. Supporting the competition is part of the IET’s commitment to show young people the benefits of careers within Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).