For the past three months, I coached a FIRST Lego League team. In this competition kids aged 9 to 14 design, build, and program an autonomous Lego Mindstorms robot, then compete on a table-top playing field at a tournament. Teams also research a real-world problem and are challenged to develop an innovative solution to present at the tournament. The challenge is different every year, but the goal is the same. The kids learn to apply science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) concepts, all while having tons of fun!

This year’s challenge took teams “Into Orbit”. Robots had 2.5 minutes to complete as many space-themed missions as possible. Our team launched a rocket, sent a payload traveling down a space ramp, aimed solar panels, crossed an asteroid, extracted core samples from the asteroid, grew food in a space station, and aimed a telescope! Have a look: