One-hundred-fifty school children convened in Paderborn, Germany this past November 15 to tackle the problem of climate change with, of all things, the children’s toy, LEGO building blocks. The event was organized by the FIRST LEGO League, a world-wide educational initiative. Participants in Paderborn represented Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia. Additional regional LEGO climate change competitions also took place in other parts of the world.
Andreas Stolte, a representative of the Heinz Nixdorf MuseumsForum, an ASTC member and host of the Paderborn competition, commented that “fifteen teams battled for victory and a place in the next round of the competition with robots which they had constructed and programmed themselves.” He added, “they were required to prove their skills in the fields of robot design, research presentation, and team play in addition to contesting the actual matches.”
To enter into the contest, teams were required to construct an autonomously operating robot from sensors, motors, and those colorful plastic LEGO bricks. Each team then used its robot to solve problems in the field of climate change research.
You can see some of the projects in action on the YouTube website. One example shows a robot that automatically buries carbon pellets at safe storage sites. Another robot moves blocks into place in levees that have been breached by rising ocean waters.
FIRST LEGO was founded in 1989 to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology. Based in Manchester, New Hampshire, U.S.A, this informal science public charity designs accessible, innovative programs that motivate young people to pursue education and career opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math, while building self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills.
Photo: Participants in the FIRST LEGO competition demonstrate their climate change robots. Courtesy of FIRST LEGO league