FIRST Challenges Students to Understand Water Use for Upcoming Season

International nonprofit FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) on Wednesday revealed its theme for the 2017-2018 FIRST LEGO League and FIRST LEGO League Jr. seasons. In addition, LEGO Education released a set of education lesson plans on a range of STEM topics, available to teachers at no-cost.

Both of the FIRST programs, which introduce basic computer science and robotics concepts, have introduced new challenges focused on the human water cycle.

The FIRST LEGO League Jr. AQUA ADVENTURE Challenge is designed for students in grade K-4 worldwide. The challenge aims to introduce the water cycle to students, while fostering basic CS and engineering skills. Participants will be tasked with building and programming a model with the LEGO Education WeDo Set, which includes LEGO bricks, sensors, software and a supporting curriculum. Teams can also choose to work with the newly launched LEGO Education Inspire Set, which comes with more than 700 LEGO bricks and elements. The challenge is expected to reach an estimated 65,000 kids across 43 countries, according to a prepared statement from FIRST.

A demo of the LEGO Education Inspire Set. Source: YouTube.

Next, the FIRST LEGO League HYDRO DYNAMICS Challenge tasks students in grades 4-8 with building, testing and programming a robot using LEGO MINDSTORMS capable of solving a series of missions related to human water use and the global water crisis. For example, one mission could focus on the removal of a broken water pipe. Participants are allowed to work in teams of up to 10 students. An estimated 253,000 kids from nearly 90 countries will participate, the statement said.

Over nearly 20 seasons, FIRST LEGO League and LEGO League Jr. have had students research real-world problems such as food safety, recycling and transportation and develop solutions, all while emphasizing FIRST’s core values of collaboration, discovery and respect. Participants design and build robots, and have the option to join regional and national competitions where designs go head-to-head in a playing field.

More information about the two STEM programs can be found in the video. Source: YouTube.

Education lesson plans are available for free. Image: LEGO Education.

In conjunction with announcement, LEGO Education unveiled free lesson plans focused on coding, engineering and other STEM subjects, as well as areas like social-emotional development. Made for teachers by teachers, lesson plans can be filtered by duration, difficulty level, subject, grade level and by product. “More lesson plans will be added this school year, as well as increased workflow interoperability with leading digital learning platforms,” according to a prepared statement from LEGO.

FIRST is an international not-for-profit organization that was founded to inspire youth to participate in science and technology. To learn more, visit the FIRST site.

Updated Aug. 28, 2017 at 9:54 a.m. PST.

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Sri Ravipati is Web producer for THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at [email protected].