DMU students help youngsters compete in LEGO league


Children at a city primary school are celebrating after winning through to the national finals of a competition to find Britain’s best young engineers.

The team from Whitehall Primary beat 12 other teams at the FIRST ® LEGO ® League UK and Ireland competition, which was hosted at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU).


The youngsters, all aged 10 and 11, gave up after school clubs, football practice and dedicated their lunchtimes to working on the project. They had to build a robot to tackle a series of tasks and create an innovative solution to a real-world problem. The children built Bee Bot to resemble a bee.

Dovelands Primary, Sir Jonathan North, Newbridge High, Beauchamp College, Stokes Wood Primary, St Mary’s Field, Shaftesbury Junior, Coleman, Mayflower, City of Leicester, Babington College, Whitehall Primary and Sandfield Close Primary took part.

Student volunteers from DMU Local, the university’s public engagement programme, supported the event and helped the teams on their tasks, visiting participating schools every week in the run up to the contest to help the children with coding and design. This year’s theme was City Shaper, and teams had to identify a problem with a building or public space in your community and design a solution.

Amina Lunat, the Lego project lead for DMU Local, said: “It was such a great day. The enthusiasm, innovation and standard of work from the schools taking part was awe-inspiring and all the judges were extremely impressed with what they saw. A huge congratulations to the winners, but it was an extremely difficult decision and all those taking part should be really proud of their work.”

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Andy Robinson-Noades, FLL co-ordinator, was part of the judging panel at the Leicester final. He said: “It is the hardest decision we have had to make of any that we have done. Everyone has been absolutely fantastic, it’s been such a fun day.”

The BeeBot team – Yara, Alexis, Niam, Hassan, Uzayr, Newsha, Krish and Rohan – will now go to the national finals being held next month in Bristol.

The youngsters cheered, clapped and some even cried when they learned they had won.

“I’m speechless,” said Alexis. “We spend most of the week on the robot, I haven’t gone to football and done the robot instead,” added classmate Hassan. “We are so happy,” added Yara.

Full list of winners: Judges Award – Stokes Wood; Robot Performance Award, Beauchamp College; Robot Design Award, Newbridge High; Innovation Project, City of Leicester; Core Values, Sir Jonathan North.

Maryam Chopdat, Whitehall’s More Able Lead, said: “I am so proud of them. They have worked so hard and been so enthusiastic, to have come through this and done so well. We are all looking forward to Bristol now.”
The children were supported by staff Tracey Hockin, Paul Ellam, Safiyya Chopdat and Jagrup Ruprai.

Lowri Walton, FIRST® LEGO® League IET Education Manager, said: “The programme makes STEM subjects fun and accessible as the students get hands-on experience with robotics and designing innovative solutions. The teams develop computer programming, teamwork, problem-solving and communications skills in an incredibly exciting environment. 

“It’s a fact that the need for engineers has never been greater. The IET supports FIRST® LEGO® League, because it equips young people with the skills that they need to become future innovators and engineers. FIRST® LEGO® League is the world’s largest STEM competition with 40,000 teams in more than 100 countries and the IET is proud to be the operational partners for the programme in the UK and Ireland.”

Representatives from Balfour Beatty, one of the sponsors of the First Lego League were on hand to meet the children. The idea behind the league is to inspire youngsters to learn about engineering, computing and team work.
The IET is the operational partner. Supporting the competition is part of the IET’s commitment to show young people the benefits of careers within Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

Posted on Wednesday 15th January 2020

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