Licking County News

Lego robotics competition will emphasize team building

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Far more than technical knowledge is required to become a successful engineer, according to Rori Leath, STEM education director for Newark's history, art and technology museum, The Works.

It also requires teamwork and social skills.

"The U.S. needs more engineers as team members," Leath said.

To this end, The Works has opened registration for children ages 9 to 13 to join two seven-member First Lego League robotics teams this fall. Exemplary teams will move on to district competitions.

Registration will be first-come, first-served and costs $125 per member. Team rosters will be announced Sept. 2.

Teams will meet regularly during September and October in preparation for participation in a regional robotics tournament in late November or early December.

Registration and more information about volunteering as coaches and mentors are available at attheworks.org.

Leath said First Lego League team members should have an interest in computers, robots and technology.

The Lego Mindstorms platform will be used to design, build and program a Lego EV3 robot. Coaches will encourage teamwork, creative thinking and problem solving.

She said the subject of the research project would be announced Aug. 26 and it will involve finding a solution to a real-world problem. Leath said last year, team members tackled "nature's fury" and worked on a cellphone application to warn users of impending weather emergencies.

Leath said there will be far more to the program than bringing a robot to life.

"They'll also be judged on teamwork abilities and a research project," she said.

Leath said robots will become prominent in the next several years and the ability to program one is important, but the ability to do so as part of a team is far more important.

Particularly at district competitions, she said, team members would be judged on "co-opertition" and "gracious professionalism."

"Each team wants to win, but they want to win when the other teams are doing their best," Leath said.

In order to win district competitions, team members must show judges that they are willing to work with the competing teams and help them overcome obstacles and technical glitches, even if providing such assistance might ruin their own chances of winning.

"We're creating well-rounded contributors," Leath said.

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