Guthrie Library’s robotics program may be less than two years old, but they’re going places! While Guthrie started in 2018 with just one FIRST LEGO® League® team, in 2020, they’re up to six!
What’s FIRST LEGO® League®?
FIRST (firstinspires.org) stands for For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, and it is a nonprofit organization that works to promote robotics and leadership among young people. LEGO® teamed up with them to create FIRST LEGO® League, which works to inspire young people to develop an interest and understanding in STEM via LEGO® robots. Participants can start as young as Kindergarten!
Guthrie Memorial Library currently has six teams:
- 3 teams in the FIRST LEGO® League Jr., for ages 6-10 (pictured above)
- Children at this level do not compete, but learn about doing research, solving problems, and talking about what they discover! They do presentations and cooperate with others.
- 2 teams in the FIRST LEGO® League, for ages 9-14
- Kids at this level are challenged to identify local issues or problems that relate to that season’s theme. They work on planning, research, and programming their robots to solve the problem they identify. They compete with other FIRST Lego League groups.
- 1 team that participates in the FIRST Tech Challenge, for ages 12-18
- Tweens and teens at this level also work on a local issue that they can solve with the season’s theme. They work on planning, research, and programming their robot to do tasks. During competitions, their robot may need to be given new instructions on the spot, which requires a lot of fast research, communication, and programming.
You can learn more about Hanover’s teams at hanoverlibraryrobotics.org.
When did it start?
Guthrie started this program in 2018 because kids and parents kept asking if the library would serve as a home base for a FIRST LEGO® League team. After some work and fundraising by the Guthrie Library Friends Group, the library was able to make this happen. Now teams have a dedicated space to work on all the parts of their challenges. They even have a 3D printer so they can design and create their own custom-built parts! Volunteers graciously donate their time and expertise to coach and mentor the different groups (but more volunteers are needed).
Each season, the LEGO® League issues a different real-world challenge that the teams must work to solve. They start with a problem statement, create and conduct a research project, and of course work on the actual robot building. The team members must also be able to present their work and discuss it at the various competitions; library director Lisa Kane recalls one young participant who was terrified to present in front of people. Just one month later, was a confident pro—and he wasn’t even 10 yet!
One of the best parts of this program is that children do not need to have any robotics experience at all to participate. It is designed to meet kids where they are, and helps them build their skills and abilities according to their interests and strengths.
Why is the library doing this?
Many children do not have this sort of opportunity at their schools or other programs, so the library is here to provide! Having our library members request this program and its exponential growth shows that this is an area with a high level of need and interest. Also, having the program at the library makes it accessible to more children. You do not need to pay to participate, and the library is an easy destination for many local kids. And kids get to meet others with similar interests that they would never have met, otherwise! We get to see a lot of great friendships and partnerships happen.
When do the teams meet?
We meet on Monday nights and Saturday mornings from August to January. Our main competitions happen in January.
How do I support the Guthrie Robotics Teams?
Specialized library programs like this always need extra funding; donations or company sponsorships are welcome!
We also need scientists, engineers, and any creative, engaged adults to mentor our teams! Contact [email protected] if interested in sponsoring or volunteering.