Perfecting presentations, adding final lego bricks to visuals, and writing down last minute information on poster boards are some things Jr. FLL (First Lego League) teams complete to prepare for the Jr. FLL Expo. Hosted by the Northville Robostangs on December 16, 2017, the event showcased the hard work of 23 teams Jr. FLL teams from all over Michigan. Aqua Adventure, the theme this year, challenged each team had to come up with a solution on how to improve the journey of water from its source to households and create a programmed Lego model of their idea. The teams presented their ideas and models to a panel of Robostangs student and mentor judges, and had the opportunity to interact with the Robostangs team and with each other in this STEM community-building event.
The expo began with an opening ceremony that recognized all the team members that made the event possible. Then teams, before or after their judging, traveled to different stations to take part in various activities. Everyone got an opportunity to color a picture, create their own LED lights, get a temporary tattoo of their choice, get a silly look with stick-on moustaches, take team pictures with Robostangs’ mascot Darwin, and see one of the Robostangs robots in action and even drive it. These activities allowed teams to have fun with their fellow teammates, celebrating all the hard work put into the projects. Teams also got an opportunity to walk around at look at other team’s projects and see how different people thought of different solutions to the challenge. Once everyone had an opportunity to present and the judges deliberated, the awards ceremony began. Each team got a unique award and everyone walked away feeling proud of what they had accomplished.
The Robostangs created the Jr. FLL Expo in over 4 years ago to emphasize the importance of Jr. FLL and encourage interest in STEM from a young age. The event takes place every December, after a fall season of mentoring 18 outside teams and 5 inside teams teams of local elementary school children and guiding them through the process to ensure a successful presentation.
Mentor Dhriti Marri said, “Mentoring is rewarding because we get to play a role in encouraging kids to find their own voice and develop their own ideas to see something they imagine come to life.”
Imagination was the first step that the Jr. FLL teams took in their Aqua challenge and their final products demonstrated their critical thinking skills and determination.