From all across the world, teams of young people have gathered at the University of Bath, UK, to participate in the First Lego League International Open Championship 2017.

How fortunate for the Steamship crew that this year’s competition is in our own home city and the very first time this prestigious event has been hosted in the United Kingdom!

We couldn’t resist the opportunity to bring along a few junior members of the crew to get a taste of the First Lego League Challenge event for themselves. With 93 Teams from nearly 35 different countries, all gathered for the competition, this is a truly international celebration. It was also particularly heartwarming to see such a large number of enthusiastic young female participants within the teams made doubly significant by the event coinciding with International Women in Engineering Day 2017.

Set within a huge sports hall on the university campus, complete with stadium seating for the the attendees, helped create a gladiatorial atmosphere and the excitement was further enhanced by being able to get up close to the competition tables as the challenges were being performed. We saw very the best of STEM innovation, team building, problem solving from the makers, creative thinkers and inventors of tomorrow. The variety of approaches to robot designs was incredible, all created in order to solve the same set of discrete missions on a dedicated game table and specially designed mission mat. Not to mention within a very limited 2 Minutes and 30 Seconds timeframe.

Teams must build an autonomous robot which can successfully complete as many challenges as possible within the timeframe. All teams are comprised up to ten members, aged from nine to sixteen. This year’s theme for the missions is based around the concept of Animal Allies. Each mission explores ideas around how humans and animals learn from each other, create bonds of friendship and establish relationships of mutual help, become reliant upon each other to adapt and survive, cater for each others daily needs, provide protection amusement and love for one another. All concepts are designed to engage the students in practical, social and philosophical thought processes within a framework of participation, research and problem solving.

The event also includes a large STEM fair complete with many hands on activities such as 3D printing.

Lego is such a tangible medium for tinkering and at it’s core demonstrates how playful learning experiences can ignite pupil engagement, enhance creative thinking across the curriculum and beyond, to reason systematically and collaboratively in the pursuit of goals and ultimately to enable students to release their potential and shape their own future.

To find out more about the First Lego League and how you can participate in this global robotics based life skills competition go to the First Lego League UK Website