FLL Community Event held at University of Memphis

TSPE First Lego League
From TNSPE.ORG Website
By Frank Niedzwiedz, PE
FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) endeavors to get students in grades 4-8 excited about math and science through the FIRST® Lego League (FLL) program. This year’s theme was “Food Factor,” which covered food safety.  Teams spent 8 weeks researching an invention they would like to build to make food safer, developed a presentation of their invention, and programmed a Lego® Mindstorm® robot to accomplish as many food related missions as possible on a 4′ x 8′ game field in two minutes and thirty seconds.  Each mission carried a different point value. Teams were credited with the best point score of three attempts.
The Memphis Chapter of the Tennessee Society of Professional Engineers has just finished our first year actively supporting the program in Memphis with great success!  Last year, there were zero FLL teams  in the Memphis area.  This year, nine teams registered with FIRST, purchased robot kits, and implemented robotics learning programs.
Under the coordination of John Ventura, Christian Brothers University hosted the “Mid Season Summit” October 29th, where FLL teams were given the opportunity to learn a line following program and share with other FLL teams.  The event was also open to the public and CBU provided computers and robots for students not affiliated with FLL allowing them to write a program and experience the robot operating under their control.

The University of Memphis provided the University Center Ballroom and additional judging rooms for the Memphis community event on December 3, 2011. Six of the nine registered teams came together to compete in the robot games, present their invention, and exhibit core values.  Core values are the guiding FLL principles which promote teamwork and self learning.  Tim Herndon judged teams on their understanding of core values. J.T. Malasri judged team presentations. Frank Niedzwiedz organized the event with the university.  Four awards were given out – Grand Champion, Core Values, Project Presentation, and Robot Design.
Following FIRST’s core values of Gracious Professionalism™ and Coopertition™, two teams who were having difficulty getting their robot to run were paired with University of Memphis students familiar with the NXT programming language.  By the end of the day, both teams successfully ran missions on the game table.  It was empowering for students to start the day with a dead robot and end with successful missions!
One Memphis-registered team even made the four hour and thirty minute trek to Cookeville, Tennessee, to participate in the Tennessee State Championship on December 10th.  In Cookeville, approximately 50 teams from Tennessee competed in the robot games, presented their invention idea, and exhibited core values.
The Memphis School of Excellence team took third place in Robot Mechanical Design.
With the excitement generated by this year’s event in Memphis and the community support we were able to garner, the Memphis TSPE Chapter is planning for even more teams next year!

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