During the past month, Carver Elementary School’s First Lego League teams have been working hard to prepare for their upcoming competition on Saturday, November 10. These weeks, team members worked on building new mechanisms for completing missions and coding new paths for achieving these missions.
First Lego League is a program for elementary and middle school students meant to foster excitement in STEAM for the youngest students. This year’s challenge, entitled “Into Orbit,” forces students to engage with the real-world challenges of space travel by creating their own contraptions to overcome the challenges. Besides building the robot itself, students must also create a presentation explaining a real-world problem before introducing a pragmatic solution.
For this challenge, Carver Elementary School students are at the forefront with San Marino High School’s Titanium Robotics members, acting as voices of wisdom for more complicated issues. The students split themselves into two groups: mechanical and programming. Mechanical students individually designed and built mechanisms, which are attachable robot contraptions to achieve different missions, and were led by Engineering President Olivia Cameron, Electrical Captain Brian Chu, and 11th grader John Chon.
The main goal for students in this group was for them to engage with the creative process through pragmatic testing and refinement. Meanwhile, programming students learned about the basics of coding using the language designed specifically for First Lego League. The language heavily resembles Scratch, since it uses a drag and drop block format for different methods that the robot can execute; however, the program is more complex, because it gives the option of using various sensors that feed the robot information. Students learned how to use conditional statements, upload programs to the robot, and test their code for accuracy. These students were guided by Business President Kimia Hassibi, Business Correspondent Edmond Wen, and Events Coordinator Justin Jang.
The most exciting part of the experience was seeing how thrilled each student was about exploring his or her own creative ideas. It was also incredibly impressive seeing elementary school students grapple with concepts, like wheel rotations, that are normally reserved for older students.
Titanium Robotics is a team consisting of over 100 students, mainly from San Marino High School, who come together with a common interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Students learn from professional engineers and mentors to build and compete in the annual FIRST Robotics Challenge with a robot of their own design. Programming, electrical work, computer-aided design, and business management are all run by student representatives, making the entire organization student-led from start to finish.