Two of Iowa’s FIRST® LEGO® League Challenge teams advanced to the 2021 FIRST® LEGO® League Challenge Global Innovation Award finals held in June. The Global Innovation Challenge included participants from over 100 countries across all three FIRST® programs. The Iowa finalists advanced through multiple events to showcase and present their research and innovations to industry leaders in front of a global audience.
Teams took part in a qualifying system through the College of Engineering’s Iowa State Engineering Kids (ISEK) programming to advance in the competition to be chosen as two of only twenty teams in their division.
“It is important to grow a diverse pipeline of students into STEM,” said Camille Schroeder, director of Iowa FIRST LEGO League and ISEK. “By encouraging young people to think critically about complex problems facing our world through a fun, hands-on, minds-on program like FLL, we are inspiring the future innovators and engineers who will solve global issues. Their success in the program shows them that they are capable of creating amazing solutions and celebrates their talents and abilities.”
The Iowa FLL teams, the Cosmic Creators and the Believe & Achieve Bots, worked to identify problems related to getting people moving and active through improving or creating a new technology to solve that problem.
Coached by Jason Pontius, associate chief academic officer with the Iowa Board of Regents, the Cosmic Creators are a team of friends who just finished their fifth and final year together.
The team’s innovation was to utilize white noise to improve the existing sport of Beep Baseball, a version of baseball for the blind and visually impaired.
The Cosmic Creators borrowed official Beep Baseball equipment from the Iowa Reapers, a local Beep Baseball team, and tested their hypothesis using white noise backup alarms. Using white noise created less noise pollution and helped players better locate bases, and its wider range of frequencies allowed for a greater number of people with hearing loss to participate as well.
“I think the team has learned a lot about research, testing prototypes, and talking to experts and incorporating their feedback,” said Pontius. “I think the biggest lesson they have learned is that engineering is an iterative process and sometimes what seems at first like failure is actually a step to-ward a breakthrough.”
Coached by Rashmi Choudhary, the Believe & Achieve Bots are in their third year as a FLL Challenge team. Their team supports people on the autism spectrum and those who are less fortunate than others, with an additional goal this year of helping people be more active, per the FLL Challenge goal.
The Believe & Achieve Bots created the Correction Coach, a wearable, instant feedback device that helps individuals improve their athleticism by training and improving limb movements to create muscle memory and encourage proper movement. It uses a non-contact ultrasonic sensor and pro-vides real-time feedback via light and a Bluetooth connected smartphone application with data acquisition.
The Cosmic Creators and Believe & Achieve B placed in the top 20 projects globally. If you want more information on getting involved with FLL or to learn how to support this program, visit www.isek.iastate.edu.