By Jake Ryder, Times-Republican
A team of Miller Middle School students qualified for next month’s state LEGO League championships based on their exceptional performance at a FIRST LEGO League regional qualifier at the Roundhouse in Marshalltown on Saturday.
The Miller Game Changers received the Innovation Project award and were one of five teams that qualified for the statewide event from Saturday’s competition — the Game Changers advanced through their combined scores on their innovation project, their performance in the robot game, and core values categories.
The Iowa State FIRST LEGO League Championships will be held on Saturday, Jan. 27 and Sunday, Jan. 28, 2024 at the Iowa State University College of Engineering in Ames. The Game Changers will compete on Jan. 27.
“I’m so proud of how the students performed today,” said Extended Learning Program (XLP) instructor Ann Jackson. “We’ve been working on LEGO League since school began, so it’s fun to finally get to compete and even more fun to be successful.”
The Game Changers’ award-winning project was a functional video game controller and game specifically designed for adults ages 45 to 60. The team consulted with artists that offered advice on the game imagery and music, and an occupational therapist that provided insight on how to optimize a controller for adults. A demo of the game was available earlier last week to visitors to the Marshalltown Public Library who also provided valuable feedback.
“From this feedback, we were able to continue the engineering design process by iterating our design and game coding,” Jackson said.
Saturday’s event consisted of two parts – a Robot Game open to the public and private judging sessions where teams presented their Innovation Project and Robot Game design to judges and answered questions about the project to demonstrate values like teamwork, discovery, inclusion, innovation, impact and fun.
A member of the Golden Bricks team from Grundy Center reacts during Saturday’s FIRST LEGO League competition on Saturday in Marshalltown.
Other area award winners included “Spartan Storm” of Grundy Center earning the Robot Design award, and “Pasta La Vista, Baby…In A Box” of Marshalltown winning the Motivate Award.
The Robot Game, “MASTERPIECE,” is a timed challenge for teams to activate technology that will enhance the experience for LEGO “audience members” like “Stage Manager Sam” and “Skateboarder Izzy” to enjoy a creative pro duction. Points are awarded when robots successfully complete tasks around the game board, which are tallied for the Robot Performance Award and help determine state qualification.
FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is a global nonprofit organization that “prepares young people for the future through a suite of life-changing youth robotics programs that build skills, confidence, and resilience.” LEGO League is offered for children in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade; FIRST Tech Challenge is available for teams with competitors in seventh through 12th grades and FIRST Robotics Competition is for teams with members in ninth-12th grades.