An enthusiastic team from a Magherafelt school were placed 18th in the robot performance heats and were highly commended for their excellent standard in the other areas of the UK and Ireland FIRST LEGO League final.
Seven Year 10 pupils from Magherafelt High School were the only team representing Northern Ireland, having qualified for the final which was held at Loughborough University last Sunday.
The team had previously won the Northern Ireland Regional Heat held in W5 Belfast in December last, having outperformed 16 local teams from across the province.
Although the Magherafelt team did not bring home any of the five main prizes they received positive feedback from the technical judges on their unique robot design using tracks instead of wheels which they modelled on their team sponsor, Caterpillar.
FIRST LEGO League is a global science and technology challenge involving over 29,000 teams of 9-16 year olds. It aims to encourage an interest in real world issues and develop key skills that are crucial for their future careers, particularly in STEM subjects.
The High School students worked together to explore this year’s theme which was ‘managing rubbish’, and they developed an innovative solution to encourage the public to manage their waste more efficiently and to recycle more by making information on recycling more accessible.
As well as the research project the students were tasked to design, build and program an autonomous LEGO robot to solve a series of missions, and score the highest possible number of points in under three minutes.
This involved many hours of building, programming and testing the robot under the guidance of their teacher and a mentor from the team’s sponsor Caterpillar, who met with the students on a weekly basis.
The team were also assessed on the FIRST LEGO League ‘core values’ which promote teamwork, excellence and good sportsmanship towards other teams.
The winning team at the final was ‘West Linton Wasps’ from Dundee in Scotland, who will travel to the USA for the World Festival in April representing the UK and Ireland.
Magherafelt High would like to thank Caterpillar (NI) Ltd for their team sponsorship and providing Keith Chambers as the team mentor who also travelled to the competition to help cheer the students on.
Thanks also to NIE Networks for provision of funding to help with the team’s travel costs to Loughborough.