Nebraska City News-Press

Thirty-six FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Lego League teams from Lincoln, Omaha, Iowa, Missouri, and Southeast Nebraska met on Saturday, Jan. 6, at Nebraska City High School.

All competing for a chance to advance to the State FIRST Lego League tournament at the Strategic Air and Space Museum in Ashland on Feb. 17.

The FIRST Lego League is one of several FIRST projects that are designed to encourage youth think about careers in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM).

FIRST has three programs (Lego League, Tech Challenge and Robotics Competition) that begin in kindergarten through high school that encourage students in the areas of science and technology. FIRST Lego League is designed for students in fourth grade through eighth grade.

Each year, FIRST Lego League releases a new challenge to the teams, which includes a project topic area, a robot game, and core values. This year’s challenge was called “Hydro Dynamics.”

The students had to identify a problem that currently exists in the human water cycle and come up with an innovative solution to the problem. The human water cycle describes the ways people find, transport, use, and dispose of water in order to meet a specific need or desire.

The two Nebraska City Middle School Pioneer Bots teams brainstormed and identified two different problems to solve. The Pioneer Bots Purple team designed a way to 3-D print PVC pipe-liners in one hundred year old water pipes. The Pioneer Bots Gold team designed a way to collect and filter rainwater during hurricanes and thunderstorms to be used as drinking water.

The judges felt their project was “extraordinary innovative and would best represent Nebraska at a global level in innovation.” The Pioneer Bots Gold team will present their project at the state tournament and be judged for an opportunity to represent Nebraska at Nationals.

Judges evaluate mechanical design, innovation, programming effectiveness and team strategies for solving missions to assess overall design quality. The judges said, “This robot used four sensor and completed seven missions in three legs. This robot started out the season destroying the field but soon was back in the box and straightened out.” The Pioneer Bots Gold team placed fourth overall in the robot game.

“FIRST is more than robots. The robots are a vehicle for students to learn important life skills. Kids often come in not knowing what to expect-of the program nor of themselves. They leave, even after the first season, with a vision, with confidence, and with a sense that they can create their own future”
~Dean Kamen, Founder of FIRST~

The mission of FIRST is to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders and innovators, by engaging them in exciting Mentor-based programs that build science, engineering, and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership.

FIRST is More Than Robots. FIRST participation is proven to encourage students to pursue education and careers in STEM-related fields, inspire them to become leaders and innovators, and enhance their 21 st century work-life skills. Read more about the Impact of FIRST.