It’s autumn and SLI students are deep in preparation for the FIRST LEGO League (FLL) and First Tech Challenge (FTC) competitions. For FLL, middle school teams compete in two areas: a robotics game and a research project, both centered around a specific theme. Last year’s theme featured endangered species and wildlife preservation; this year’s theme is “Hydro Dynamics,” specifically focusing on the human water cycle (how humans “find, transport, use, and dispose of water”). Using EV3 LEGO kits, teams design and build robots that navigate and complete tasks on a 4’x8’ game board; for each task completed, a certain number of points is rewarded. Teams are also evaluated on their research and proposed solution to a specific problem related to the year’s theme.

Meanwhile, SLI high school students are building robots using a FTC Competition Tetrix Kits.

Like FLL, FTC rewards points to teams for each mission completed by the robot; however, FTC’s challenges are fluid and change throughout the course of a game, thus requiring more dexterity, flexibility, and smarter robots. FTC’s theme this year is “Relic Recovery.”

Now in its fourth year of FLL and second year for FTC, SLI is excited to watch students grow in their robotics skills and their ability to work as a team as they learn, research, and problem solve together.


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