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  • Megann Horstead

Lego robotics competition fosters student-learning, engagement at LFCDS


Lake Forest Country Day School eighth-grade student Angelique Alexos has always been fascinated by robotics, but it wasn’t until she competed in last year’s FIRST LEGO League robotics competition, where science meets technology, that she realized she wanted to make an impact in the world in ways that are larger than life.

“I definitely think this is something I would want to explore,” she said. “I really like having a theme and trying to determine how I can play a role in this theme.”

LFCDS hosted its third annual FIRST LEGO League Robotics State Qualifying Competition on Dec. 5, with this year’s theme being “Trask Trek.”

Students from across the country and around the world will take part in the FIRST LEGO League robotic competitions presenting their work and research findings.

The idea of hosting the regional competition started 12 years ago when a group of teachers at LFCDS started taking students to LEGO Robotics competitions.

Year after year, the curriculum at LFCDS has provided students with a number of hands-on opportunities, such as LEGO robotics, to prepare students for future challenges.

“As we think about 21st century skills for students, facility with technology, meaningful opportunities to work collaboratively in a pressured situation, and creative problem solving will be hallmarks of a well prepared student,” Bob Whelan, head of LFCDS, said. “These skills will transfer across industries and occupations, many of which have yet to be developed.”

The benefits of STEM programming in schools is one of several trending topics in the media as of late and at LFCDS, this is no exception.

“Having a STEM program in and of itself if really wonderful, but at LFCDS we strive to make it about how can we use the technology now that we have it and can shape it,” Mark Arthur, a science teacher at LFCDS, said. “What are we going to do with this technology to make the world a better place?”

More than 500 people, from Cook and Lake Counties, attended this year’s regional state qualifying competition.

LFCDS seventh-grader Alex Mutter was meeting up with his teammates prior to the start of the competition.

He said he became interested in the competition two years ago, taking on a volunteer role as a fifth and sixth grader.

“I like the teambuilding and the teamwork that goes into it,” he said. “As time progressed, I found that I liked doing research and presentations.”

He said he enjoys the competition that’s seen year after year and he sees himself continuing to explore the boundaries of science and technology beyond graduation.

“For next year, I made sure the high school I will be attending would have a robotics program so I could be a part of it,” he said.

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