STEM Students Tackle FIRST LEGO Challenge

Jack Abrams fourth graders are participating in the FIRST LEGO League, Jr. competition.

January 17, 2017

Jack Abrams STEM Magnet School students are always searching for a challenge and they recently found one. Fourth graders are set to participate in the FIRST LEGO League Jr. Creature Crazy competition.

Founded more than 25 years ago, FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is an international organization that strives to develop an interest in science and technology for young people. FIRST LEGO League Jr. is designed for students in grades K-4 while FIRST LEGO League offers programs for those in grades 4-8. There is also a FIRST Tech Challenge for students in grades 7-12 and FIRST Robotics for high school students.

FIRST LEGO League Jr. introduces STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) concepts to students between the ages of 6-10. Teams of up to six members “explore a real-world scientific problem such as food safety, recycling, energy, etc.,” according to the organization. “Then they create a ‘show me’ poster that illustrates their journey of discovery and introduces their team. They also construct a motorized model of what they learned using LEGO elements. In the process, teams learn about teamwork, the wonders of science and technology and the FIRST LEGO League Jr.’s core values of respect, sharing and critical thinking.

“Globally, students compete in the FIRST programs through extracurricular clubs and organizations,” said Donna Moro, principal of Jack Abrams STEM Magnet School. “However, this allows only a small group of students to have exposure to the enriching experience of FIRST competitions.  At Jack Abrams School, we are thrilled to offer all our students the opportunity to be exposed to the excitement and pride that comes from working in teams to research, design, build and share their experiences.”  

Each team of Jack Abrams STEM Magnet School fourth graders will choose an animal that lives in the same habitat as a honey bee and then learn as much as they can about that animal and its habitat. Teams will demonstrate what they’ve learned through construction of a LEGO model, including use of a LEGO motor to make at least part of the model move and the creation of a “show me” poster.

“Our goal is to develop a robust feeder program for our well established award winning J. Taylor Finley Middle School and Huntington High School robotics programs,” Ms. Moro said. “Our focus is on offering equity to all students, giving every student access to innovative enriching opportunities. The implementation of this program will include classroom instruction, collaborative team-work culminating in an in-school expo and an opportunity to represent Jack Abrams School and the Huntington School District in a regional FIRST competition in early March.”

The fourth graders are an inquisitive bunch. One gets the impression they will easily rise to the FIRST LEGO League Jr. challenge and shine.

“The real exciting part is that this is only the beginning,” Ms. Moro said. “We are putting plans in place to expand our students’ exposure in the FIRST competitions next year and anticipate entering both our fifth and sixth grade students in the FIRST LEGO League competitions as well. There is no doubt the future of Huntington robotics and engineering is very bright.”