By Rachel Ponder, APG NewsOctober 24, 2012
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - Children, ages nine to 14, interested in robotics can join the APG South (Edgewood) youth center's First Lego League team.
The First Lego League is an international science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, program. Team members are given challenges and compete in local competitions with other FLL teams. Children ages six to nine can join the Junior First Lego League.
Facility Director Renee Main said last year was the first time the center offered Jr. FLL teams. Main said that Jr. FLL was so popular that volunteers decided to offer FLL for older children this year.
"Most of the kids who wanted to still pursue it are now old enough to be in FLL," said FLL mentor Chad Devorak, an engineering technician from Edgewood Chemical Biological Center. "First Lego League shows them that math is not just a subject you learn in school, it is something you use in real life. Hopefully their involvement in FLL will spark an interest in the STEM subjects."
Children in FLL are challenged to use their creativity to design a solution, or modify an existing solution, to solve a real-world problem. The 2012 FLL challenge is called Senior Solutions, where teams are asked to find ways to improve the quality of life for senior citizens. Teams will build an autonomous robot to score points on a thematic playing surface, creating an innovative solution to a problem as part of their project. Children will use computer-aided design to create the robots.
"FLL is a learning opportunity, challenges requiring teamwork and perseverance. Teens can put it on their college resume," said FLL mentor Jennifer Devorak from the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense. "Those who join this team should take it seriously."
Although there is no cost to enroll, FLL will participate in several fundraisers to cover the cost of competitions (sponsors from the community donated Lego kits). FLL meets on Monday and Wednesday evenings, from 4 to 6 p.m.
"First Lego League is fun, it is a chance to use my imagination," said FLL team member Shyann Stolo, 9.
Anita Matos, a SAIC employee, is leading the Jr. First Lego League, which meets on Monday nights, from 4 to 6 p.m.
"Children are encouraged to work together, think together, become a team," Matos said.
Devorak added that parents are always welcome to participate with their children during the meetings, and more volunteers are needed. Children who wish to join the Jr. FLL and FLL teams are required to be registered with Child, Youth and School Services. For more information contact the APG South youth center at 410-436-2862/2890. For more information about FLL, visit www.firstlegoleague.org/. For more information about Jr. FLL, visit www.usfirst.org/roboticsprograms/jr.fll.