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Westwood kids explore LEGO robotics

By Lauren Schiavone
Hometown Weekly Staff

Students of Westwood High’s Robotics First Robotics Competition (FRC) team 1757, the Wolverines, recently introduced children in grades three to five to LEGO robotics. One of many
STEAM groups held at the Westwood Public Library, FRC's students were happy to spend time
sharing their passion and knowledge with the community.

Students introduced the concept of engineering with a warm-up challenge. The assignment
was simple: make one long chain with a single sheet of paper. Tape, scissors, and one sheet of
paper were provided. Kids worked on modifying their chains before they were measured out and
compared. Collaborative brainstorming allowed them to dissect methods of hands-on
engineering.

Sean, a Westwood High junior, shared the mission of the robotics team. “We want to increase
educational opportunities in the community," he explained. "We hope to make this a regular
event.”

Sean and four other teammates explained the critical importance of mass with a LEGO
challenge. They demonstrated a LEGO arm mechanism that functioned as a grabber to pick up
objects off the table. Objects ranged from a plastic cup (light in mass) and a plastic ball (heavier
in mass). Beginning with approved sketches, kids went to work technically and creatively.
Children picked out LEGO tech bits and bricks to bring their designs to life. Following guidelines,
they lined up one by one to test their LEGO grabbers. The experiential learning resonated with
the kids, and interest grew even more when they discovered they could build functional items
from LEGOs.

“We try to level it out such that there’s enough interaction and activity so those that don’t
instantly pick stuff up grow and get something out of it. The big picture is that the general
STEAM interest is improving … It helps the community in the long run,” added Luke, a
Westwood robotics team member.

The team spends the months of January through March building in preparation for their
competition. They compete against other teams across New England using the same principles
of engineering and design that they taught children at the Westwood Library. Team 1757 will be
spending time prototyping, programming, and designing. They are set to compete on the
weekends of March 25 and April 1.

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