More than 125 enthusiastic, STEM-minded students converged on Willow Creek Elementary and the Smoky Hill Library on December 12. They were excited to share a new perspective on trash and recycling, display models of tools, machines and vehicles involved with trash and recycling and explain how teamwork made all of that possible.
Eighteen FIRST LEGO League Junior (FLL Jr.) teams of kindergarteners through third-graders spent the fall investigating and researching a particular piece of trash (from batteries to soda cans to bottles to microwaves). They met at least once a week, sometimes taking their learning beyond the school to visit trash disposal and recycling sites. They learned about the engineering design process and how simple machines work. Then they 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. They learned about and experienced compromising and building consensus, including others’ ideas to make a theory stronger and respecting and involving all members of a group.
These elementary school students presented the culmination of their months of work to guest reviewers and other teams at the Willow Creek and Smoky Hill Library FLL Jr. Expos. Five Willow Creek FIRST LEGO League (FLL) teams and one Timberline FLL team of third, fourth, and fifth-graders played a key role in the expos. They inspired their younger colleagues with their own research projects on the same question of how we deal with trash and recycling and shared their innovative answers to how we can improve those methods in the future. The FLL teams also displayed the robots they designed, 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.
ColoradoFIRST donors, chiefly Lockheed Martin, Ball Corporation, Daniels Fund, and Arrow Electronics, generously sponsored these expos, with the CCSD STEM Department also sponsoring the Willow Creek Expo. Countless dedicated volunteer coaches, parents and teachers from Willow Creek organized and executed their event. Willow Creek proudly fielded 7 FLL Jr. teams and 5 FLL teams this season, while Timberline Elementary created 7 FLL Jr. teams and 2 FLL teams.
If you are interested in starting an FLL Jr. team at your school or in your neighborhood, please contact Katherine Aschenberg, the Affiliate Partner Representative for FLL Jr. in Colorado, at JrFLL@coloradofirst.org.