St. Louis Public Library’s FIRST LEGO League team, the Master Builders, celebrated their rookie year in 2017. The Master Builders consisted of six members ranging from ages nine to twelve years old. Team members do not need any experience with robotics to join the team and be successful. Two of the members found their interest in robotics only a couple months before joining the Maser Builders after they attended a SLPL Robotics camp just that summer.
The FIRST LEGO League is a non-profit organization that promotes STEM concepts along with critical thinking, creativity, and teamwork. Every year they coordinate teams from around the world to compete in a robotics tournament and present a solution to a “real-world” problem. In 2017, the topic was Hydro Dynamics, where teams were charged to evaluate a problem affecting the human-water cycle and provide a possible solution. Teams were also provided a LEGO challenge course where they had to program their LEGO Mindstorm EV3 robot to accomplish different missions autonomously.
The heart of the FIRST LEGO League organization highlights two primary core values. The first is “Coopertition”, which combines competition and cooperation so teams help each other even as they are competing against each other. The other core value is “Gracious Professionalism”, which promotes good sportsmanship by showing respect and integrity to others, even during competition. Teams are empowered to work together and share their knowledge and skills with others while still having fun.Almost every Saturday from September to November, the Master Builders met to work on their project and program their robot named Emmett.
The Master Builders would not have gotten far without the generous support of SLPL’s Digital Library Services, who provided funding, as well as two mentors from the local robotics club Café Bot. Café Bot’s coaches Kim and Robert Sanders are a husband and wife duo who have been collaborating with SLPL for years. The Café Bot team kicked off the first SLPL Teens Robotics Club in 2014 and hosted a FIRST Tech Challenge practice field for international teams in the Teen Lounge for four years. Café Bot, a veteran FIRST LEGO League team, provided invaluable insight and mentorship to help the Master Builders succeed in their rookie year.