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NEWS | Sept. 14, 2016

FIRST Robotics Programs Challenge Local Students to Discover the Wild World of Animals

By Alex Jackson Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Atlantic Public Affairs

Approximately 350 students attended the 2016 Charleston Area Regional “FIRST LEGO League (FLL) Kick-off” on September 6, at the South Carolina Aquarium.  The event was presented by the South Carolina FLL, SPAWAR Systems Center (SSC) Atlantic and South Carolina Aquarium in collaboration with Boeing and Hanahan Recreation and Parks.


The mission of For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) is to inspire young people to become science and technology leaders. The program engages students in exciting mentor-based programs to build science, engineering and technology skills. The program also inspires innovation fostering well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication and leadership.


FLL teams of students from the fifth through the eighth grades research a real-world problem and are challenged to develop a solution. They also must design, build and program a robot using LEGO MINDSTORMS®, compete on a table-top playing field and practice the program’s core values.


This year’s theme, ANIMAL ALLIES, explores how we can improve our relationship with animals. Students are challenged to think about all the different ways people interact with animals and how we can be better allies.


Over 15 SSC Atlantic employees, who are experienced as robot design, project and core values judges, provided valuable advice to participants. Volunteers from Boeing were essential in managing and facilitating the event.


With the mission of the South Carolina Aquarium to lead the way in connecting people with water, wildlife and wild places, the aquarium offered to be a resource for participants.   BricksALIVE sculptures are peppered throughout the second floor.  The sculptures were built by aquarium employees to enhance conservation efforts.


The FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) team, rOHMing Robots, was on hand to provide insight into the next level of FIRST robotic completion.  Students in grades seven through twelve were challenged to design, build, program and operate robots to play a floor game in an alliance format.

To illustrate the final level was FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) for high school students.  The Burning Magnetos displayed an industrial-size robot.   


The SPAWARSYSCEN Atlantic Outreach Program is focused on building relationships within academia, government and industry communities to enhance science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education.