Teams of young scientists from Mary Ellen Henderson Middle School are among the many 5th through 7th graders from all over the country who are charging batteries and practicing presentations in preparation for the initial rounds of this year’s FIRST Lego League (FLL) Challenge. The teams from MEHMS are getting ready to compete in a regional tournament this Saturday, Nov. 12, at the Smithsonian Museum of American Art in Washington D.C.
FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is an non-profit organization which in association with the LEGO Group created the FLL, a S.T.E.M (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) program aimed at combining fun creativity with learning. Every year, FLL releases a challenge, based on a real-world scientific topic, and invites teams to participate in a global competition building and programming an autonomous robot to complete preset missions for points. In addition, teams conduct research into a related problem which they present before a panel of judges.
This year, teams have been researching the topical issue of food safety in the 2011 Food Factor Challenge and discovering the range of opportunities for contamination our food encounters before it reaches us. Their challenge has been to find novel and innovative ways to prevent or overcome these contaminants. In the past participants projects have provided pioneering solutions for industry and some have even been patented.