The great thing about FIRST Lego League is that it engages girls
Skills acquisition has figured in our news this week, taking me back to my belief that when it comes to learning and discovery you can never start too young.
Take Lego for example. I absolutely adore it, and I’ve got the scars on my feet to prove it (anyone who’s inadvertently trodden on a brick in the wee small hours will know that it’s a pain unlike any other). With four boys to my name, my family has collectively spent a great deal of its GDP on the multi-coloured building blocks from the chunky Duplo to the cutting edge. My husband is half Danish. Lego is practically in our blood.
Lego is a positive life skills builder and thanks to the evolutionary configurations to the original brick, is a key tenet in engaging and inspiring our children into the art, fun and habit of computational thinking.
The First Lego League for example, encourages children to design, construct and programme their own intelligent inventions, building their confidence and experimental thinking.
Founded in 1998 by Dean Kamen, founder at FIRST, and LEGO Group owner & deputy chairman Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen, over 255,000 children across 88 countries are now participating in this programme.
Every year First Lego League issues a challenge, based on a real world scientific topic. Each challenge comprises three parts: the robot game, the project and core values.
Teams with a max of ten, with a minimum of two adult coaches, participate in the challenge by programming an autonomous robot to score points on a themed playing field, developing a solution to a problem they have identified all framed by Lego First core values. With all this prepared, teams can then attend an official tournament, hosted by FIRST Lego partners. Past challenges have been based around topics such as climate, quality of life for handicapped people, and transportation.
By exploring possible solutions to real world issues, children are exposed to a variety of potential careers, as well as assimilating STEM principles that accompany challenge participation.
The great thing about FIRST Lego League is that it engages girls. To inspire girls to take up work in STEM fields is critical to plugging future skills gap in science and technology, as jobs in these sectors are expected to increase faster than other occupations.
The recent Jobs of the Future study carried out by Social Market Foundation (SMF), and commissioned by EDF, as part of its Pretty Curious initiative, says that digital innovation and infrastructure investment are growth drivers in science and tech jobs.
The report found that only 10 per cent of women work in architecture, 8 per cent in specialist construction and 13 per cent in construction, highlighted to be big job opportunity areas for the future.
Like I say, Lego’s the thing. However, what would really be the icing on the cake is if someone, somewhere invented a Lego magnet, or a ‘self-put away brick’. They would have the gratitude of parents the world over, and end those painful, but somehow inevitable foot injuries.