by Hilary Brumberg
Saturday, hundreds of elementary and middle school students will swarm to this school to compete with Lego robots and to give research presentations as part of the First Lego League (FLL) Maker Faire Competition.
Thirty-two to 34 teams of three to 10 students students will direct their robots to accomplish various challenges in the cafeteria. Teams earn points for each task they complete in two minutes, and the teams with the most points move on to additional rounds, according to parent Susan Cassidy, who helped organize the event.
Simultaneously, in the film lecture hall, other teams will present their research on senior citizen-related issues. Each year, FLL participants are faced with “a real-world issue and challenged to come up with an innovative solution to a problem facing society today,” Cassidy said.
Volunteer judges, many of whom work in the math, science and engineering field, meet with teams to discuss their research and robot construction and programming.
The winner of this school’s FLL competition will advance to the state championship at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in the winter.
“I’ve never been around a more polite group of kids as during FLL competitions,” Cassidy said. “I love it because kids from many backgrounds are involved. Some of the kids will never act in a play or be on a sports team, and they are so inspired.”
Members of the Ligerbots, this school and South’s robotics team, help run the event by DJing, ushering, running the registration table, videotaping, making announcements, setting up and pit managing, according to Cassidy.
The Greengineers will have a booth on Main Street during the competition where we “showcase our stuff, such as the smoothie bike, biodiesel and algae,” according to chief innovation officer Stephen Chinosi, who teaches greengineering.
He said that he “learned a lot” from participating in the competition, and he loves to see “kids get excited about doing stuff.”
Other math, science and engineering-related groups, such as Engineering department, the Green Decade and MIT Robotics, will also have stations on Main Street.