I’m not a parent and I don’t have kids. I’m probably the least qualified to give parenting advice, but I’m going to give it any way. If your little ones are between the ages of 9 and 12 you should seriously consider signing them up for the FIRST LEGO League. For starters, no child is going to say no to the chance to play with LEGO but it is also a great way for children to learn about Maths, Science, Engineering and basic Programming in a practical and fun environment.
SAP Africa has been sponsoring the FIRST Lego League in South Africa for 9 years. They recently also injected R1.4 million in to the league to help sponsor 50 of the 164 teams currently competing. The company’s staff also volunteer as judges, coaches and mentors.
Every year there is a new FIRST LEGO League Challenge. The Challenge consists of two parts, namely the Robot Game and the Project. Teams are expected to design, build, program and test a unique robot that is able to complete a series of tasks in under 2 and a half minutes. While LEGO supplies the pieces and some of the tech, the kids will need to learn how to assemble it and get the robot to work. The robot’s tasks include identifying different colours and moving around a series of obstacles. In order to complete them there is some programming involved as well as basic mechanics. It’s a great way to teach technology without the textbooks.
The second part of the challenge is a little bit more academic. Teams need to complete a project where they research a real-world problem (like, should tablets be compulsory in all schools), create a solution and then share their findings. This helps promote problem solving, analytical skills and increases research capability (and take it from someone who knows, these are all skills you’ll need when you hit University).
I’m a fan of anything that helps promote Maths and Science in schools because it ultimately helps promote Maths and Science to girls. We need more females moving in to STEM fields.
I’m also a fan of LEGO and wish something like this had been around when I was a kid. By now you should want to sign your kid up for FIRST LEGO League. Great. It’s easy enough. Head on over to their website to get all the information you need. If you’re still unconvinced and live in Joburg, the FIRST LEGO League National Championship is happening on the 5th and 6th of December at the Sci Bono Science Centre in Newtown. It’s also open to the public, so why not go through and see what it is all about?