STEM success during a LEGO-tastic January
Ellie Tudor – PR & Marketing Executive
Easing our way back into the New Year is not really how we operate at Conscious Communications, far from it! Following on from the success of last year’s IET FIRST® LEGO® League Cambridge tournament which took place in January 2019, we were asked to support with the delivery of not one, but two tournaments for the 2019-20 season.
As well as managing the delivery of the Cambridge tournament in collaboration with Qualcomm, we worked with Whirlpool Corporation to deliver a brand-new Peterborough event. We spent six months building up to and preparing for the tournaments, which were held within a week of each other in January! In total, the events were attended by over 300 local school children and, albeit a hectic start to 2020, the joy on the children’s faces when they kick-started their robots into action, was second to none!
Thanks to the sponsorship from both Whirlpool Corporation and Qualcomm, we were able to reach out to a number of local schools (22 schools in total!) and offer them fully funded places at the tournaments, while volunteers from the companies lent their engineering expertise to support teams in the lead up to the event.
FIRST® LEGO® League, one of four programmes offered by FIRST®, is an annual international competition which sees over 310,000 young people (in 38,800 teams), from across 100 countries, come together to develop their STEM skills. The winning teams from both of our regional tournaments have been given the opportunity to progress to the National Final in February, where they will compete for a chance to progress to the World Festival in Detroit, USA.
Split into four key parts, the FIRST® LEGO® League challenge invites students to develop skills that they can use in their future careers. We certainly saw this first-hand at the two tournaments we were involved with. Teams were allowed three attempts at a robot game, and, because of this, one of the most valuable disciplines that the children were able to showcase and learn on the day was the ability to adapt and overcome issues. As soon as the countdown reached zero, the teams were bursting to get back to their pit areas and make small (or big) adjustments to their robots and programming schedules, so that they were able to come back even better than before – it was fantastic to see.
Another wonderful element of the whole competition is the core values that the teams are required to operate under. Throughout both tournaments, all of the children were encouraging each other, discussing programming techniques, and learning from their peers. It was inspiring to walk around and see the students showcasing these core values, especially when it was the first time taking part in the tournament for many of the teams.
As well as conducting outreach to local schools and managing event logistics, naturally, media relations formed a big part of the project. We secured some fantastic media coverage on the tournaments, with highlights including features on ITV Anglia and BBC Look East and print and online coverage in Cambridge Independent, Peterborough Telegraph and The Hunts Post, achieving a total audience reach of 59,187,232.
Each year, it is an absolute pleasure to see the students’ excitement as they battle it out on the robot playing field, or as they present their projects to the judges. We’re looking forward to volunteering to support the IET at its England and Wales final, taking place in February, and hopefully seeing some familiar faces!
It is really rewarding to see everything come together and run smoothly after months of planning; the feedback from teachers, students, volunteers and partners involved has been incredibly positive. Following the Whirlpool tournament, Helen Jeffries-Harris, a team coach from Longthorpe Primary School, commented: “I’d like to say a very big thank you for Saturday’s tournament. I thought the day was fantastically well organised and a super fun learning opportunity for our children. Please pass on our thanks to all your volunteers who were, without exception, helpful, positive and encouraging.”
Bring on next season!