This year, the theme of the annual First Lego League competition was cargo connect. We in the Nucleus STEM Stream at Northampton Academy were lucky enough to attend this event.
Our team of eight had to overcome challenges using our problem-solving skills. We displayed our schools core value of determination when we felt like giving up when building our robot and designing the code along with it.
There were many different elements to this project: the three vital components were the robot, the code, and the innovation project. Our challenge was for our robot to deliver cargo to different forms of transportation or target locations around our given field. In the current day and age, everyone depends on transporting goods for their daily needs. As more demands are placed on the transportation systems, we will face challenges unless we find new ways or improve existing methods to transport the cargo. This is what inspired our design and innovation project.
Our plans for the robot went through many different prototypes, with the design constantly having to be adjusted, reworked, and changed when new complications arose. With that, the code had to consistently be changed as it was dependent on the foundation of the robot. For example, the robot started with two wheels and two arms. Then it changed to four wheels, and we completely forgot it needed an arm! Then finally, two legs with motors and two supporting wheels without an arm. So our plan constantly changed until we all agreed that the final design was the best possible outcome it could be.
During this time, two team members worked on our innovation project, which was entirely based abound sustainability and green transportation. First, we created a short 5-10 minute presentation based on our 'Project Spark'. We also had to develop or improve a piece of equipment, a technology, or a method of transportation to solve your specific problem. Finally, we decided to blueprint how our sustainable vehicle would look. The majority of the lead up to our project was trial and error, research, and repetitive testing. Some aspects were quite tedious, but every single element ensured that what we brought to the competition was the best version we had. Also accompanied by the most developed code and a well-researched and presented innovation project.
However, this did not prepare us for the unexpected obstacles we faced on the day. Upon arrival at the Institution of Engineering and Technology in Coventry, many challenges arose and we had to think quickly about how to solve them. One of these obstacles was that our robot had died and, when we went to change the batteries, all of the code was wiped entirely from it, meaning that we had to recode and reupload all of it. We also found out that all of the other teams had been preparing for an extra month and a half compared to us and had a much more advanced level of code and robot structure. Despite the unforeseen complications, we were determined to pull together as a team. We ensured that when it came to our robot game (the main part of the competition), we had a somewhat functional program and stood a chance of having a positive outcome.
At the same time, we also had to present our innovation project and answer questions surrounding our robot, the innovation project, and the process. We were questioned on how each member of our team contributed, the different designs we went through, the disagreements we had as a team and how we displayed our schools core values throughout our preparation. The consistent display of our school's core values won us the overcoming adversity award in this competition. Although we didn't win overall, our consistent portrayal of Northampton Academy's principles was just as significant to the outcome. Even though the competition itself was extremely stressful, from this experience, we have all developed our resilience, determination, tolerance, and patience. Considering the difficulties we went through, we have all built up our character and have learnt what to expect next time to ensure we win first place.
Regardless of the challenges, both on the day and during the build-up, this fantastic experience gave us all so much value. The opportunity itself was not only interesting and engaging but enjoyable as well. Despite all the coding, robot building, and innovation project being done by the students, none of us would have been able to do it without the support of Mrs Staff and Mrs Ashton. Lego robotics was an incredible experience with so many valuable lessons, and we cannot wait until next year's competition.
By Aarya L, Year 9