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DMU students inspire next generation of engineers with Lego

Students at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) have helped school children to build their skills at the first regional heat of an international challenge using Lego.

LEGO picture three

More than 80 primary and secondary school children spent the day at The Venue competing in Leicestershire’s first Lego League Tournament.

The challenge encourages children to apply science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), alongside problem solving, critical thinking and team-building skills.

Ten teams of nine to 16 year-olds were tasked with researching and solving problems under timed conditions after designing and creating robots made from Lego. They had to code and programme their robots and control them via a tablet or laptop.

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The children also had to present their robot designs to a panel of judges and prove that they could demonstrate a series of core skills.

A total of 20 #DMULocal volunteers have spent the last couple of months visiting competing schools to share their expertise and to help children prepare for the tournament.

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Amina Lunat, 22, a final-year Computer Science student, said: “It’s been a great experience to work with the children and to develop such important skills. I’ve also learnt so much myself as we tried to come up with creative and innovative ideas.

“It’s been really nice to see the smiles on the children’s faces and their looks of concentration at the tournament. They’ve progressed from knowing very little about STEM subjects to being excited about using their new skills.”

She added: “I’m just jealous I didn’t get the opportunity to take part in an opportunity like this when I was at school.”

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Matesz Peacock, 14, was a member of Babington Academy’s ‘Apex Predator’ team, which won the Robot Design Award.

He said: “I’ve learnt a lot about coding and solving problems, and designing a robot has really tested our patience. We had to take our time to plan everything as we learnt that if you rush, things can go wrong. I am now interested in working in computer programming.”

Mason Day, DMU’s Project & Outreach Assistant, said he expected the tournament to become an annual event with a ‘bigger and better’ event already being planned for 2019.

He said: “It’s been an absolutely fabulous success. The school children have enjoyed it so much and got so much out of the day.

“It’s been amazing to see how the children have got so involved and how they’ve become so enthusiastic about STEM subjects. Several children have already expressed an interest into going into engineering in the future.”

A total of 32,000 teams from 88 countries will part in the global challenge, which is organised by the Institution of Engineering and Technology. The teams are judged in four categories; robot design, robot project, core values and robot games. 

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Mandy Workman, Education Manager at the Institution of Engineering and Technology, said: “This is the first time there has been a tournament in Leicestershire and DMU staff and students have done an excellent job.

“It’s all about inspiring the next generation of engineers. We are showing school children that engineering can be both educational and fun, while providing them with essential employability skills such as teamwork, problem-solving and communication.”

Leicestershire’s participating schools were Dovelands Primary School, Willowbrook Primary School, Hazel Primary School, Shaftesbury Junior School, Hamilton Community College, Rushey Mead High School, Babington Academy, Rugby Free Secondary School and Redmoor High School Academy. Each child involved was awarded a medal.

Team Mechanical Mayhem, which was made up of children from outside the area, was named as the overall winner.  They will go on to compete in the UK and Ireland final in Bristol on February 24.

Posted on Friday 12th January 2018

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