Lego Robotics

By Brian Keller, Robotics

The FIRST® LEGO® League competition falls in November every year. Each year we have to squeeze as much information, creativity, hard work, and dedication from the students.

The challenge is posted 10 weeks prior to competition date and just like track runners we all line up at the gate and then sprint as fast and as hard as we can towards the finish. We may stumble along the way but we manage to have every member of the team not only finish, but finish with our heads held high and our emotional well-being reasonably intact. After the competition is over and we pack away the pieces for another year, I can’t help but reflect on the tumultuous 10 weeks and feel nothing but pride for all those who competed each year.


Robotics is not just about STEM, but also blends real world character education into the process.

The robotics aspect of the competition is relatively easy to get once you grasp the basic understanding of what the robot is capable of doing, and how to program it do it. What makes FLL challenging is that you are working on a team of individuals, each with their own ideas and beliefs. Teams have to focus on three different aspects at the same time:

1. The Challenge – Design, build and program your robot to complete as many successful missions in 2 minutes and 30 seconds

2. The Project – This year we researched trash and came up with our own innovative ways to fix any part of the trash problem that is occurring in society (trash vortex, Styrofoam trays in the lunch room, what to do with old VCR cassettes, abandoned homes, and the trash in East Saint Louis)

3. Teamwork – Displaying the First Lego League Core Values of teamwork and gracious professionalism

Working as an individual student or as a team focused on one task may not seem too difficult. But, having to balance all three aspects, and do it all together, really extends the kids beyond their comfort zone. The difficulties come from deciding whether to compromise in order to move forward, or stop all progress of the team because you know you are right and you cannot abandon your principles.

Our Guiding principles

Students identified 3 basic traits that they need to be successful in robotics: Grit, Open-mindedness, and Creativity. These are the words that they decided are the most important when working with a team competing in Lego Robotics. They need creativity to decide how to solve problems with the best possible solution, grit to stand up for what they believe in or to accomplish the challenges that may be too difficult and open-mindedness to see others’ ideas completely before coming to a quick decision about their own ideas. These guiding principles will see us to the finish line.