Eighty enthusiastic, STEM-minded students shared a new perspective on learning, displayed tools they designed and explained how teamwork made it all possible during the Willow Creek Junior FIRST LEGO League (Jr.FLL) Expo held at Willow Creek Elementary on Dec. 13.
Jr.FLL, for children in grades 1-3, and FIRST LEGO League (FLL), for children in grades 4-8, are international programs that engage students in the fun and excitement of science and technology.
Eleven Jr.FLL teams of kindergarteners through third graders spent the fall investigating diverse learning environments such as karate dojos, aquariums and the streets outside their homes. They also visited places like the Wings over the Rockies Air and Space Museum and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. They learned about the Engineering Design Process and simple machines and then created moving models out of LEGO parts, some of them even programming their models with computer software. Teamwork and other core values were woven through all their activities, as they learned about and demonstrated compromise and building consensus. They learned to incorporate others’ ideas to make a theory stronger and to respect and involve all members of a group.
The school students presented their projects to guest reviewers and other teams at the Willow Creek Jr.FLL Expo on Dec. 13. Three Willow Creek FLL teams of third, fourth and fifth graders played a key role in the expo. They inspired younger students with their own research projects on the same question of how we learn and shared their innovative answers to how we can improve learning methods in the future. The FLL teams also displayed the robots they designed, which were built out of LEGO parts and programmed to perform challenges on a robot game table. Teamwork and other core values also provide the backbone for FLL, so the upper elementary students mentored the younger students on how to work as a team.
The CCSD STEM Department and ColoradoFIRST donors, chiefly United Launch Alliance, Lockheed Martin, Ball Corporation, Arrow Electronics and Encana, generously sponsored the expo. Dedicated volunteer coaches, parents and teachers from Willow Creek organized and executed the event.
Willow Creek Elementary launched the Jr.FLL and FLL programs this fall and the response was overwhelming. Twelve teams were formed: nine Jr.FLL teams and three FLL teams. Thanks to the support of parent volunteers and school staff, Willow Creek has over 100 people engaged in LEGO Robotics.
If you are interested in starting a Jr. FLL team at your school or in your neighborhood, please contact Katherine Aschenberg, the affiliate partner representative for Jr.FLL in Colorado, at JrFLL@coloradofirst.org.