Northwest Iowa STEM Hub Programmer Kari Webb tells KICD News that as a part of Governor Branstad's STEM - or Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math initiative , $2.8 million was set aside for programs proven STEM effective. In Northwest Iowa alone $60,000 has gone towards the FIRST® LEGO® League.
Past Challenges have been based on topics such as nanotechnology, climate, quality of life for the handicapped population, and transportation. This year, the goal of the challenge is to design a robot that will improve the quality of life for seniors by helping them continue to be independent, engaged, and connected in their communities. Webb says the 19 teams of 10 kids ages 9-14 have been working on their robots for the past month.
During the tournaments, teams have three rounds on the competition tables to get the best score possible. When not competing with their robots, teams give their research presentations, and are interviewed about the technical design of their robots and how they work as teams. Regional qualifiers may advance to the Championship event at Iowa State University in January.