A team of schoolboys from Kent are gearing up for the challenge of a lifetime at the FIRST® LEGO® League Open European Championship in Germany.
The Langton Lions from Simon Langton Grammar School for Boys in Canterbury were selected to represent the UK after competing in the National FLL Final at Loughborough University in January.
The five-strong team, all aged 13 or 14, will compete against 53 teams from 35 countries in the four-day event in Paderborn starting on Tuesday evening. In that time they will present their project aimed at improving the quality of life for elderly people – a daily dispensing medicine box – as well as programming their LEGO® MINDSTORMS® Education robot to complete a set of missions on an obstacle course.
Picture courtesy of Langton Lions
James Meakin, Carlos Purchase-Galarza, Tom Roblin, Ross Price and Ollie English make up the team – along with their LEGO MINDSTORMS Education robot UniBot, a robot they have worked on for around 500 hours so far.
Carlos said: “The UniBot was conceived back in December 2011. It’s basically the NXT brick and the three servos configured as a drop-in unit to power various tools. It’s enabled us to be very flexible in our design progression by allowing us to completely change mission solutions in a modular manner. We can make changes in isolation thus not disturbing other mission solutions in the process.
“This has taken its toll on our time though; because it is so flexible, the possibilities are endless and we have gone through three generations of tools this year to finally get to the stage we are now. We have devoted in excess of 500 hours to the robot game so far.”
In respect of the other major component of the competition, James says: “The team’s project is based on an ingenious idea which we identified when we were researching the project we completed in the Nationals. It comprises a daily dispensing medicine box; a device enabling older people to store and manage their medication which is easy for the pharmacist to refill and allows the GP to change the dose remotely.”
Tom adds: “We are really excited about presenting this new idea in Paderborn which I think has far reaching and positive implications for the elderly everywhere – not just in the UK.”
Since the UK final in January, the team have been busy raising £5,000 in sponsorship from businesses to enable them to compete in the European event, and they’re now very excited about the trip.
Ross says: “I thought that reaching the Nationals was the ultimate but to go to Germany is incredible and to be the only team from UK, up against over 50 other teams from all over the world is awesome. What an honour to be representing the UK.”
Ollie summarises the core values of the team: “FIRST LEGO League isn’t just about winning for the Langton Lions (although that is our ultimate aim). There are plenty of other factors that are significant such as teamwork, friendship, experience and learning. After we leave on Tuesday, we are going to have fun and meet lots of new people from many different countries, and whether we come back with the cup or not, we’ll remember the experience for the rest of our lives.”
Last weekend Untitled 1, the UK national FLL champions from Bath, won the Champion’s Award at the FLL World Festival in the United States. You can read more about their triumph here.
To find out more about the FLL competition in the UK, take a look at this YouTube video made by the UK organisers, The Institution of Engineering and Technology or visit the website.