Here, Anna Preston, our Product Support Team Leader, talks about her experience of judging the regional tournament of the FIRST® LEGO® League Challenge, alongside Andrew Gascoine, Digital Engineering Manager - a world-wide STEM competition for young people.
The FIRST® LEGO® League Challenge is an international hands-on competition that promotes learning in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). It has two main elements: first, research and problem-solving on a real-world scientific challenge and then the building and coding of a LEGO® Robot to complete tasks in a highly competitive test against other teams and the clock.
I was truly delighted and honoured to once again be asked to act as one of the judges for this amazing competition for the third year, alongside Andrew Gascoine, Digital Engineering Manager at Mabey Hire. As judges at the regional tournament in Stafford, we were tasked with reviewing the work of four groups of students (sixteen groups in total) from different schools across the region, who presented their solution to the real-world challenge and demonstrated their robot design. We asked the students about the STEM principles behind their solution and discussed with them what they did well and how they could improve it. Based on their presentation and our discussions we then provided a score for each team.
Being involved in this competition is something that is very important to Mabey Hire as a business, and also to me personally. Supporting the FIRST® LEGO® League Challenge is a great way for us to help inspire the next generation of engineers (a critical mission considering the ongoing skills shortage), showcasing the challenging but rewarding possibilities of a career in this field. Inspiring a love for STEM in young people also allows us to give something back to the local community, with opportunities and invitations such as this truly aligning with and breathing our ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) principles.
Personally speaking, the promotion of STEM subjects is also important to me and, as a Mabey Hire STEM Ambassador, I’m always keen to be involved in anything that advances this crucial area of education. This is the third time I’ve been a judge for this competition (and the fourth time that Mabey Hire has been involved) and I’m still amazed and energised by both the enthusiasm of the students and the creative solutions they present. It also gives me a chance to learn something new from these students, such as new perspectives on a well-known challenge, fresh insight or even just gaining a better understanding of what is important to them.
In many ways, the FIRST® LEGO® League Challenge closely aligns with our own Mabey Hire STEM Education Programme, which as a STEM Ambassador is something that is close to my heart. Our STEM Education Programme is a 16-week programme ran with local schools, aiming to teach students about basic engineering principles in a fun and hands-on way using LEGO®.
The finalists of the regional FIRST® LEGO® League Challenge tournaments will now progress to the national round of the competition, where they will compete against other talented teams from across the country. We wish them all the best of luck.