Liberty High hosts FIRST LEGO League championships
Students from across the state participated in the 16th annual FIRST LEGO League Intel Oregon State Championships at Liberty High School last weekend, bringing more tan 120 student robotics teams togehter to compete for the top spot.
FIRST — otherwise known as For Inspiration & Recognition of Science & Technology — aims to inspire young people to learn about science and technology through robotics competitions. Students are engaged in mentor-based programs that build science, engineering, and technology skills as well as foster well-rounded life skills including self-confidence, communication, and leadership.
Each year, FIRST LEGO League, a pre-engineering program for students in fourth through the eighth grade, introduces a scientific and real-world challenge for teams to focus and research on. This year's theme was "Into Orbit," and teams chose a real-world problem to solve for their projects. They also built, tested, and programed an autonomous robot to complete a series of missions. The top 120 teams were invited to participate in the championships on Saturday, Jan. 19, and Sunday, Jan. 20, where they showed off their autonomous LEGO robots and were interviewed by judges about their design, as well as team core values.
Throughout the process, kids learn fundamental skills which in turn prepare them for future careers, said Sarah Tenney, spokeswoman with Oregon Robotics Tournaments & Outreach Program, which manages the state's FIRST LEGO operation.
"We call our program 'sports of the mind,'" Tenney said. "We are seeing that there is an increase in teamwork, an increase in problem-solving, an increase in leadership. … The thin interest in STEM-related career fields, the awareness in the STEM feels … by many different populations of kids now is increasing just because it pulls them into understanding what they are learning in competitions, and as part of a team, is going to help them later in work."
Teams are awarded based on three categories: robot design, the research project and core values. The winning teams are invited to attend the FIRST LEGO League World Festival held in Houston, Texas in April.
This year's first place award went to a team "SYZYGY" from Springfield on Saturday and "Kidobots" from Portland took home the gold on Sunday.
"The success of the next generation of innovators will depend on a strong foundation in science, technology, engineering and math coupled with skills such as critical thinking and collaboration," said Courtney Martin, public affairs director at Intel, in a release from ORTOP. "By participating in the Oregon Robotics Tournament and Outreach Program, students have the opportunity to grow and develop these skills while having fun. Intel has been a proud supporter of the Intel Oregon FIRST LEGO League Championship Tournaments since the inception of the program."
By Olivia Singer
Reporter, Forest Grove News-Times and Hillsboro Tribune
Follow Olivia at @oliviasingerr
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