DC helps elementary students connect STEM competition with career options

Durham College (DC) was proud to host more than 400 of Ontario’s brightest young minds, along with their teachers, families and friends, on January 13 as they competed in the annual FIRST® LEGO® League Ontario East Provincial Championship.

Known by its acronym that means For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, FIRST is a U.S.-based, not-for-profit public charity that inspires young people to be science and technology leaders. Leadership and innovation was on full display at this year’s competition, held in DC’s Campus Recreation and Wellness Centre at the college’s Oshawa campus, as teams of students, ages nine to 14, showcased their hard work and skills.

Teams first presented research projects to judging panels before unleashing their robots, which the students designed, built and programmed using LEGO MINDSTORMS® technology, on to table-top playing fields.

This year’s competition theme, Hydro DynamicsSM, challenged teams to consider water – how we find, transport, use or dispose of it – and answer the question, what might become possible when we understand what happens to our water? Each team was asked to identify a real-world, water-related problem then create an innovative solution and share it with others. In keeping with the theme, the robot playing fields and challenges also focused on water.

While students were on campus, DC president Don Lovisa also encouraged them to think about the broader connections between the Hydro Dynamics theme and career opportunities on their horizon.

“Where could this year’s Hydro Dynamics challenge lead?” he asked. “How about Civil Engineering Technology, carrying out the design and technical functions related to our infrastructure and environment, which includes water resources. Or keeping water safe, both for consumption and returning to our lakes and oceans, as a Water Quality Technician. These are two of many post-secondary STEM options offered right here at DC.”

At the end of a day filled with fierce and fun competition, the Comet Warriors team from Kingston was crowned the winner and awarded an opportunity to compete at the FIRST LEGO League World Festival taking place in Detroit, Michigan, from April 25 to 28.

As a sponsor and host of FIRST LEGO League, DC offers students what is often their first experience in a college environment and helps them to envision where their passion for robotics, technology and engineering can take them to pursue a post-secondary education.

For more information about FIRST LEGO League, please visit www.firstroboticscanada.org.