Introducing the Lower School First Lego League

DSC_0037This week is Computer Science Education Week. Millions of students in schools around the world will participate in Hour of Code activities this week. Our Lower School students will be coding this week as well, but for Baldwin girls this is nothing new. In fact, already this year, Lower School girls have cumulatively logged more than 100 hours of coding and programming in the DREAM Lab®. While most of these hours take place during the school day, some of them happen after school during optional Open Lab sessions or during FLL Robotics Team Practice.

“FLL Robotics Team … what’s that?” you ask.

That’s right! This year, we have a Lower School First Lego League (FLL) robotics team and this Saturday, to cap off Computer Science Education Week, the Baldwin DREAMers, our team comprised of seven Lower School students in the fourth and fifth grade, will participate in a local FLL qualifying event at AIM Academy in Conshohocken.

Preparation for an FLL regional qualifier event is not an easy job! To participate in the event, the girls are required to complete a wide range of tasks including building and programming a robot, researching and prototyping an innovative solution to a real world problem and learning and demonstrating the FLL core values. The team has been meeting since late September, attending twice weekly practices, as well as squeezing in additional practice times during lunches, open labs and even the occasional Friday evening pizza party.

This year the theme for the season was “Animal Allies.” For the project portion of the program, the girls were tasked with identifying an interaction between humans and animals that they could improve through innovation. The DREAMers addressed a problem most PA drivers are all too familiar with – deer collisions on our roads. They decided to give the most common solution, a yellow sign with a deer on it, a much-needed upgrade. The DREAMers new sign features the familiar image of a deer, but the sign is also outfitted with a sensor to trigger lights that change to alert a driver that an animal has been sensed in the area, as well as strobes and sound effects to deter an approaching deer. To create a working prototype of their sign, the girls enlisted the help of Baldwin’s resident expert in electrical engineering, Ryan Barnes, as well as their coaches, Stephanie Greer and Peter Greenhalgh. In their original prototype, the girls took advantage of the LittleBits library in the DREAM Lab and created a simple circuit to trigger an LED when motion was detected. For their improved design, the girls took it up a notch and dove into the world of Arduino programming.

The DREAMers would like the Baldwin community to know that deer season is upon us here in Pennsylvania, and while the new sign is not quite ready to hit the roads just yet, there are a few simple things drivers can do to keep the road safer this season for both people and deer.

  • Slow down if you know deer are likely to be in the area.
  • Always wear your seat belt.
  • Look for the shine of eyes reflecting on the roadside and slow down immediately.
  • Flash your lights and honk your horn to get a deer frozen in headlights to move on.

If you see any of our team members in the halls this week, be sure to wish them luck! Happy Computer Science Education Week!

If you are interested in giving programming and coding a try, be sure to check out www.code.org and try one of their many Hour of Code activities.