Talon News - Good Local News

By Lisa Bailey


Teams from Blanco Elementary attend FLL


February 24, 2017

Auggie Aguilar, Caedyn Kinslow, Nathaniel Lewis with one of the robots created for the competition in Los Alamos

Los Alamos is a hotbed of science, boasting the nationally recognized Los Alamos National labs and a rich history, being home to events such as the Manhattan Project. It seems a perfect backdrop for a First Lego League (FLL) competition; an opportunity for teams of elementary and middle school children ages 9-14 to research a scientific and real world challenge (http://nmfll.org/firstlegoleague.html), then share their findings with other teams at these annual events. This past December teachers John Guiterrez and Grace McFarland, both of Blanco Elementary, helped prepare six groups of fifth and sixth grade students to take part in the competition. The Blanco Elementary students were the only groups there representing a public school.

Mr. Gutierrez touched on some of the challenges the groups experienced including lost props, late deliveries of project items and the need to re-build one of the robots because it got damaged during transport. But, Mrs. McFarland indicated that even these perceived problems contributed to the learning and felt that the experience in its entirety was monumental, because it was the first time Blanco Elementary students participated in an FLL event. The teachers plan to continue making this opportunity available to their students, and feel they will be able to help their students be better prepared and more competitive in future FLL competitions.

L-R Miranda Jacquez, Andrew Florez, Joshua Florez, Kyra Gruette, Emma Kidd, Annalisa Gallegos, Javan Williamson, Juleima Jacquez

FLL introduces a new challenge (worldwide) each August, then the FLL competitions take place in various places throughout the year. The challenge includes Core Values, a robot game and project. Core Values includes demonstrating traits such as the importance of teamwork, responsibility, learning, friendly competition, discovery, sharing, and having fun. The Robot Game is the building of a Lego robot and this past year's project involved the study of animals, specifically within their environment and interactions between animals and humans. Groups can begin working on their projects immediately after the challenge is released in August. In the case of Blanco Elementary students, most started in October, approximately two months before the competition. Although, one group waited until only one week before the event to accept the challenge!

Promoting education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, or STEM, is key to young people exploring their futures in the job market and education and career choices. STEM occupations are expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations, with nine million new jobs projected between 2012 and 2022 (Bureau of Labor Statistics). FLL refers to their events as, "Sports for the mind, the hardest fun you'll ever have," and are hoping to make STEM fun. Events such as these and, locally, the annual Discovery Festival, a Big Brothers Big Sisters project, help awaken the scientific skills and gifts in young people.


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