The FIRST Lego League (FLL) team at Scenic Heights Elementary is leading the way in innovative thinking, programming and engineering. On December 8, 2019, the team participated in the Regional FLL competition, where they won 1st place in the "Innovative Project" category. They will be heading to compete in a Sectionals tournament along with 47 other well-performing teams from around Minnesota on January 19th.
The team (named "Mayonnaise is an Instrument") consists of eight students from Scenic Heights, and is one of over 40,000 FIRST Lego League teams worldwide. Every year, FLL works to engage elementary and middle school students in research, problem solving, coding and engineering by hosting numerous challenges in different regions around the globe. Throughout the challenge, teams can receive awards in three categories: the Robot Game, where students program an autonomous robot to participate in different challenges; the Innovation Project, in which students aim to creatively solve a real-world problem impacting the community; and the Core Values, which encourages students to apply the core values of the FLL itself, including discovery, innovation, impact, inclusion, teamwork and fun.
Team Mayonnaise is an Instrument, from left to right are: Andy Ramaker, Sanav Kumar, Jacob Lee, Anjali Jayanti, Nesa Rajashankar, Michael Luo, Eric Luo, and Aiden Zhao.
At their last competition, Mayonnaise is an Instrument performed well in all three categories, scoring highest in the Innovation Project. In this category, they were asked to identify a problem related to community building or space and share their creative solution in a brief presentation. The team focused on designing a way for underground societies to access sunlight, should some communities be pushed underground due to natural disasters in the future.
"Through a combination of multiple technologies, our team created a way to bring the sun into the dark," explains Tingting Zhu, adviser for the club at Scenic Heights. "We did an excellent job researching into the existing solutions, figuring out the best solution, using prototypes and figuring out the costs in the implementation. We also used lots of creativity and imagination to develop a skit and delivered a fun presentation in the tournament."
Mrs. Zhu believes FLL club is a fun way for students to expand and apply their knowledge of STEM and programming. When working through the tasks of each Challenge, students consider how technology and engineering can be used to improve the world around them and use creative problem solving to design their own solutions. The students also learn about the importance of working together to reach a common goal.
"Our team learned to use a democratic approach in most of the decision-making," says Mrs. Zhu. "In the weekly team meeting, each kid came prepared and presented their individual research, and the team brainstormed and asked questions. If there is a disagreement on something, we voted to decide on a team's solution. The[se] teamwork skills will be essential in real life."
Minnetonka wishes Mayonnaise is an Instrument good luck as they head to Sectionals!