A Day at FIRST Lego League The seventh graders help the younger students, as they remember what it was like to be new but now know what they need to do to be successful on the team and at the competitions.
By Nancy McIntyre
As the 3 p.m. bell sounds at Chaminade Middle School in Chatsworth, California, USA,
a thundering herd of middle school
students heads up the stairs to the sixth
grade science lab, which is home to
four FIRST Lego League (FLL) teams.
The lab tables are arranged to hold two
playing fields, and the students’ many
hands make light work of the setup.
They eagerly place their Lego models—or field elements—around their
mats and engage in various challenges.
As one of their teachers, Steve Clark,
arrives, the kids quickly take their seats
to start the FLL meeting.
After Clark makes a few announcements about team shirts, a local tournament, and his willingness to let programmers come in during lunchtime,
the students break into groups and
move to four areas of the classroom to
discuss their progress on their robots,
programming, projects, and plans to
Clark, who is a science teacher, and
Jeff Bean, an English teacher, run the
FLL team meetings after school twice
a week. Together, these two teachers
showcase concepts that the students
learned in the classroom and demonstrate how they fit into the real world.
They help students solve problems,
conduct research, make technical presentations, work in teams with adult
mentors, and prepare for the regional
competition. Next year, we hope to
make this a two-day event and allow
96 area teams to participate.
Our after-school FLL program feeds
into the high school FIRST Robotics
Competition (FRC) program that I
coach. When these aspiring young engineers come to the high school team