The third FIRST LEGO League competition hosted by Caterpillar drew student participants from across the country

At 9 a.m. on Sunday morning Caterpillar India’s Engineering Design Centre in Chennai was bustling with 130 students from three different States, their mentors, coaches and volunteers drawn from Caterpillar’s employees. The centre was hosting the Third FIRST LEGO League Competition (FLL), a global robotics programme for students between nine and 16 years of age. The competition aims to instil in these pupils a passion for science and technology and explore its various applications. The Champions Award this year went to Space Central School, Sriharikota.

Each team consisted of 10 students drawn from classes IX and/or XI and at least one coach. There were eight teams from Tamil Nadu, four teams from Andhra Pradesh and one from Assam. The competition had three parts; the Robot Game, the Project and FLL Core Values. These rounds were meant to test the participants’ technical skills in engineering, programming and math, and also soft skills such as team work. The problems for the challenge were handed to the teams in December and they were given the hardware kits for the Robot Game in January this year.

Every year, the FLL has a different theme and this year it was ‘Senior Solutions’, whereby the teams were required to build a project that would enhance the quality of life of the elderly and would enable them to lead an independent and well connected life within their communities.

The Robot Game consisted of 14 challenges like fixing the chair, knocking down bowling pins, etc. Each team was given five minutes and were allowed two trials to earn the maximum number of points.

The FLL Core Values was an interview round where the judges evaluated the teams on the basis of their team work, team spirit and on how they went about building and designing the robot.

The programme proceeded smoothly with live feeds of the progress being displayed on the projectors.

The award ceremony the same afternoon had Ajayshankar, country manager, Caterpillar as the chief guest. “It is very exciting to see young India show such enthusiasm for Robotics,” he said.

After the presentation of certificates to the coaches, mentors, judges and the participating teams it was time to announce the winners for the day’s events. The Core Values Award for ‘team work and collaboration’ went to Arulneri Thirupani Mandram Higher Secondary School, Erode. The Project Presentation Award went to Kumar Public School, Krishna District for a working demonstration of a prototype that worked on electricity, which the senior citizens could use to call various services by pressing various buttons. The team that clinched the Champions Award was the Space Central School, Sriharikota.