Blogger School-Age Programs and Service Committee

LEGO Robotics Leagues: Your Answer to STEM Programs with Coding and Teamwork

Are you looking for a program idea that merges STEM with teamwork, coding and LEGO?  Why not try setting up a LEGO Robotics League?

In its third year at Brooklyn Public library, The Brooklyn Robotics League was offered in 32 branches in 2019 and participates in the NYC FIRST LEGO league program for grades 4-8.

The overall goal is to teach youth how to be confident problem-solving members of their community through FIRST LEGO’s core values of gracious professionalism and cooperation.  This is achieved in a process that includes exploring new skills, using creativity to solve problems, applying what was learned, respecting others, embracing differences, teamwork and celebration of the project.

LEGO Mindstorm robot on challenge mat
photo credit: Jessica Carlo

The program runs for about 10-12 weeks for about 90 minutes each week.  During the first 5-6 weeks, participants review the program objectives, create team rules and a team name and build a Lego Mindstorms Robot.  During the remaining weeks, they identify missions they want to solve and refine their robot designs to complete missions that must be completed in 2 ½ minutes. Each week they test and refine their programming code and design. Librarians and Technology resources specialists team up to lead the sessions each week.

To find out more about how to set up our own LEGO Robotics League, check out the FIRST organization. (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology).

Each program requires the following:

  • Facilitators who are willing to receive training on how to run the program
  • Registration
  • At least one LEGO Mindstorms Education EV3 Core Set
  • Challenge Mat and set of LEGO models used for various missions
  • A computer, laptop of iPad (with LEGO Education software installed) to use in coding the robot

At Brooklyn Public Library, each team (including coaches) also receives t-shirts, certificates, medals, snacks and trophies for 1st-3rd places.

According to Cheila Cruz, Technology Training Coordinator at Brooklyn Public Library, “the program is divided into two elements: the Robot Game and the Project. Since our competitions are internal, in order to keep the participants interested, we focus on the robot game and only require the project for the top three teams. However, all teams have the option to work on the project if they choose to.”  Three top three winning teams throughout the system get a chance to compete at NYC FIRST’s Championship Competition which requires all teams to present a project for 5 minutes. This year’s project, City Shaper, challenges teams to identify a problem with a building or public space in their community and to design a solution. Brooklyn Public Library teams are currently gearing up for an internal competition on February 22, 2020.

This post addresses the ALSC Core Competency: III Programming Skills.

Kimberly Probert Grad is the Coordinator of School Age Services at Brooklyn Public Library in Brooklyn, NY.  In addition to managing the library’s Summer Reading program, she also develops Library Lab STEM programming and the literacy support program TEAM UP TO READ.  She currently chairs the School Age Programs and Service Committee.

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