Last Sunday was the Expo for the Junior First Lego League. This is an annual event where teams of up to six children (aged between 6 and 9) work together to build a model out of lego.
We had a team of 5 kids who had put a lot of effort in to meet this year's challenge. The challenge was to design a model that demonstrated three levels of detail, the model had to fit in a 15"x15" area, and have at least one moving part. Our team chose to do a spider. We had a view of the spider on its web which had the least detail. A view of the spider's body, which actually had the most identifiable parts of the spider. Finally at the closest view we had a spider's head.
For me, one of the fun parts of the exercise was getting a bundle of kid-friendly reference books on spiders and learning about them. Spiders are one of the many things that we see on a daily basis, but it's not often I get the opportunity to really learn about them. The advantage of using kid-friendly books on this, is that the level of detail is just right for picking up the interesting bits, without the huge amounts of detail that might be found in text books on the subject.
Sunday's event was organised by playingatlearning which is a local group that specialise in supporting this kind of event. It was an enjoyable experience to be able to see all the other teams from the area who had all done stellar work in meeting the contest rules.
The organisers of the event had also got one of the teams competing in the First Lego League to come along and demonstrate their robot. Needless to say a robot eclipsed all the JFLL models, and quite a crowd gathered around the tuning that the FLL team was doing in preparation for their competition in San Jose on the 20th.
The whole experience was very rewarding. It took a couple of months of meeting up to decide on the model and to build it. But it was thrilling when, at the expo, the team was given the challenge of designing a fourth level of detail, and they really worked together as a team to achieve it.