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20 January, 2022 - 13:31 By Tony Quested

Qualcomm thrilled with Cambridge LEGO boost for STEM

US wireless technology innovator Qualcomm was full of praise for the latest boost to STEM education provided by the return of the IET FIRST® LEGO® League Challenge Cambridge tournament.

It is a STEM competition sponsored by FIRST®, an organisation that Qualcomm Incorporated provides funding for, and invited 18 teams of young local people aged 9-16 to take part in a range of robotics-themed challenges.

Following months of preparation, students joined a series of online judging sessions during the day-long virtual event. Teams competed with a LEGO robot which they had designed, built and programmed to autonomously complete as many missions as possible on a LEGO playing field, all within the 2.5-minute Robot Game. 

Teams were also tasked with completing an Innovation Project, which, this year, involved identifying a problem linked to transportation.

Team CERC, the Cambourne Electronics and Robotics Club, were crowned overall victors of the tournament and were presented with the Champions’ Award, securing a place in the national finals, which will be hosted by the IET on February 26. Runners-up team RealTechBot will also proceed to the national finals.

RealTechBot scored most points during the Robot Game and were awarded the Robot Game prize.

In addition to being judged on the performance of their robots during the Robot Game, each team was assessed on the strategy and computer science skills that were behind their robot’s design. Team WUS_BOTS from Westminster Under School took home the Robot Design prize. 

Following an intense presentation and question and answer session with the online judging panel, Cambridge the Pizza Robot triumphed in the Innovation Project category, which this year explored the future of transport.

Throughout the duration of the FIRST® LEGO® League challenge, teams are encouraged to demonstrate the FIRST® signature set of Core Values which celebrate discovery, innovation, impact, inclusion, teamwork and fun. This year’s Core Values winner was Ridgefield Hand Sanitisers from Ridgefield Primary School.

FIRST® LEGO® League is a global science and technology challenge which sees almost 680,000 young people across 110 countries unite to build their STEM skills every year. 

Qualcomm has funded FIRST® since the 2017-18 season and this year funded 11 schools and youth groups across Cambridge to ensure the tournament has participation from young people of all backgrounds.

James Chapman, VP and general manager, Voice/Music/Wearables, Qualcomm Technologies International, said: “It’s wonderful that so many young learners are engaging with STEM subjects and challenging themselves in ways that they’ve never done before. They should all be incredibly proud of their achievements.

“FIRST® LEGO® League plays an important role in helping young people to develop the skills that they need for their future careers – whether they pursue STEM or otherwise. I’m hoping we can celebrate in-person soon!”

• Registration for the next FIRST® LEGO® League Challenge Cambridge tournament will re-open later this year. You can email Joanna.colley [at] consciouscomms.com to register interest.

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