This year’s “Animal Allies” challenge theme for learners aged 9 to 16 starts off with an information session at the University on 2 April followed by training workshops before the tournament starts in August.
Children in teams of between two and ten members learn valuable skills while researching challenges facing today’s scientists since FLL encourages participants to think like scientists and engineers.
South Africa’s economic growth is presently being stifled by a severe skills shortage, particularly in the fields of science, technology, engineering, maths and accounting.
The introduction of the FLL challenge to South Africa, run by NMMU’s School of ICT, is one of several interventions to introduce children to the benefits of science and technology and interest them in pursuing careers in these fields.
The FLL teams, alongside adult coaches, strive to solve problems using research, engineering concepts, presentation techniques and robots. This year the focus is on various interactions between humans and animals such as how dogs assist blind people.
According to Lego Robotics public relations intern Siphe Mwellie, past FLL challenges have been based on topics such as nanotechnology, climate, quality of life for the handicapped, and transportation.
“By designing our challenges around such topics, learners are exposed to potential career paths within a chosen challenge topic, in addition to solidifying the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths (STEM) principles,” she said.
After the 2 April information session, interested parties can attend additional workshops for pre-tournament training.
The First Lego League’s official launch workshop takes place on 20 August, after which the challenge documents are released.
The regional qualifying tournament takes place on 21 and 22 October at NMMU’s Indoor Sports Centre.
For further information or to register for the tournament, contact Siphe Mwellie on 041 504 3451 or Siphe.Mwellie@nmmu.ac.za.