Students from seven schools were busy building LEGO® robots at Gatwick Airport.
For the fourth consecutive year, the airport hosted the Sussex and Surrey FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL) regional tournament.
FIRST® LEGO® League is an international robotics-based competition, which the airport has partnered, to excite young people aged 9 to 16 years about Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM).
FLL is a collaboration between FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition in Science and Technology) and LEGO®.
It started in the USA in 1998 with 210 teams and has now grown to a global competition with 30,000 teams involving more than half a million young people.
The event took place took place in the Sofitel Hotel, North Terminal, and was attended by 10 students from each school.
The roboteers had up to 10 weeks before the tournament to build and program their robots around this year’s ‘Hydrodynamics’ theme – use, transportation and disposal of water - before putting them through their paces to complete a set of missions on the thematic play surface.
The judging panel, which included members of Gatwick staff, chose Reigate St Mary’s School as the overall winners, who will go through to the FLL UK and Ireland Final, held at the University of West England.
The winners of the National Finals will then represent the UK and Ireland at an international championship in either USA, Hungary or Estonia.
The event partnership forms part of Gatwick’s Community Engagement ‘Inform, Inspire, Invest’ education strategy, including partnerships with other STEM initiatives, such as the Big Bang Fair and Learn Live broadcasts.
The airport is also supporting the Government’s national ‘Year of Engineering 2018’ campaign, which launches today, and is celebrating engineering and helping to raise its status as an aspirational career path among young people, their parents and teachers.
Chris Woodroofe, Gatwick’s Chief Operations Officer, said: “Gatwick is proud to have once again hosted the regional FIRST® LEGO® League tournament and thanks all of the schools and their students for participating. With a background in engineering myself, I was extremely impressed by the standard of entries and the high level of enthusiasm with which the teams approached the competition.
“Our objective as an airport is to inform the next generation of young people about the wide range of jobs that STEM skills are needed for, and help to build a pipeline of talent for the future.”
Mandy Workman, Education Manager at the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) said: “FIRST® LEGO® League is a great competition because it develops the skills needed in our future engineers such as problem-solving, critical thinking, communication and teamwork. It really inspires students and makes STEM subjects so much fun!”
Jo Mckinney-Green, Operations Manager, STEM Sussex, University of Brighton, said: “The day is always such an action-packed and vibrant event and it is a pleasure to be involved each year. It is incredibly rewarding to see the young people taking part with great enthusiasm and talent and we are delighted that it has such a positive impact on them in terms of their immediate studies and on their future ideas and aspirations.”