Victoria College First Lego League 2014 – We won!

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For the past 2 months I have been working with a group of excellent year 9s (also known as year 8 in England and Wales) from Victoria College, Belfast on the First Lego League competition.

I have competed in the competition as a student now 3 years running and as I am now too old, decided I would love to mentor a new team, preferably near Queens University, Belfast.

After chatting with W5 (Northern Ireland STEM centre and regional organisers) and  a rather surprising and unpredictable set of events, I ended in Victoria College, just 5 minutes down the road from Queens accommodation (Elms village).

The team

By the time all of this was organised and we got started, it was the 4th of October, putting the team 1 month behind all the other teams in Northern Ireland who received their kit at the start of September.

The students chosen to take part were 21 year 9 girls in a “Learn to learn” class. This will be ringing alarm bells with First Lego League veterans as the team sizes are limited to 10 students. As the class was this size, they were split into 2 groups to work with the final decision on those representing the school in the team of 10 being taken the day before the competition. The 11 additional students not on the team (got a day off school and) came down to W5 to support the 10 on the team.

Through their learn to learn classes, the girls were provided with 90 minutes a week to work on the competition, but any First Lego League team will tell you, that is nowhere near enough! So on top of this, the girls in separate groups (project, robotics, programming) came to after-school sessions and also a number of Saturday afternoon sessions to get the needed work finished.

It was great to see the girls build their teamwork, programming and presentation skills throughout the competition.

The competition day

So on 2nd of December we arrived at W5 in the Odyssey arena as by far the single largest group and were informed we were on first!

Robotic games

The robot going to throw the ball into the net
The robot going to throw the ball into the net
Making sure it is perfectly lined up
Making sure it is perfectly lined up

On the first match of the day, the girls scored 185 points. This stayed the highest score overall till after lunch when Dalriada School and Magherafelt High School both also got 185 points bringing it to a 3-way tie.

In the end, the winning team was decided by their second highest score.

The girls also had a number of other sessions (each weighted 25% in the overall award) including.

Robotic Design

Showing the Robotic Design judges the robot
Showing the Robotic Design judges the robot

Core Values

Core values judge asking the girls about their teamwork
Core values judge asking the girls about their teamwork

Project

A lot of work (and conductive thread sewing) went into making their project, Rainbow the dog. Given the competition is still ongoing, we will not be releasing full details on Rainbow, but will say she contains a Raspberry Pi. The judges were extremely impressed with the overall idea and loved the prototype. They were also impressed with the breadth of research conducted by the girls including a number of surveys.

Taking questions from judges
Taking questions from judges
Two rather impressed judges
Two rather impressed judges
Rainbow the dog
Rainbow the dog

The Result

In the award ceremony the girls were awarded the

Robotic Games award

and were awarded…..

The Champions award!

 

This is the overall Northern Ireland FLL award meaning they now progress on to represent Northern Ireland in the UK and Ireland finals in Loughborough in February 2015.

 

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A well deserved celebration by the team from Victoria College
A well deserved celebration by the team from Victoria College

 

A huge congratulations to the girls! Their hard work and commitment really has paid off.

 

Thanks

A few thank you’s are due.

First, huge thank you to Kanios Software, the team sponsor for Victoria College. Without them, we would not have been able to get the robot and pay registration fees.

Next, huge thanks to W5 and especially Aideen Johnson who works tirelessly to organise sponsors for every team, NI registration and then organise the big event in December. Basically none of it would happen without Aideen. Thanks also to W5 for some of the above photographs.

Finally, to everyone else who we ended up chatting to along the way (especially the project) and threw ideas at us (or answered our surveys), thank you!

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Thanks girls for the awesome card
Thanks girls for the awesome card

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