Playing with the future

Cadets with teddy bear

RAF Air Cadets from Stornoway took part in the national finals of the FIRST LEGO League event at Perth College.

The team from 1731 (Isle of Lewis) Squadron qualified by winning the Western Isles Regional Tournament at Lews Castle College on the Isle of Lewis.

The global Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) challenge by The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) for 9-16-year-olds encourages children to develop their skills and innovation. The hands-on robotics program was created to get young people excited about science and technology whilst instilling important core values.

The teams work together to explore a certain topic and to design, build and programme an autonomous robot using a LEGO MINDSTORMS kit to solve a series of missions. The STEM challenge involves a robot game and a research project. The cadets presented a proposal for a tunnel from the islands to the Scottish mainland.

The 1731 Squadron Cadets working together during the STEM challenge. The team included cadets Abishek Thapa, Patrick Spinks, Finlay Fairgrieve, Dylan Pryer, Samuel Libby, David Mackay, Cailean Macaulay, Cadet Sergeant Luke Macleod and Cadet Corporal Thomas Craig.

One of the cadets said: “We had a brilliant time learning about robot design and coding, the project and presentation really made us think about what will benefit our community the most. We found that we became a lot closer as a unit because it was very stressful at times when we couldn’t get the robot to work, but we learned to work together to solve problems. The finals were a great experience for us and we really enjoyed our trip to the mainland as well as meeting all the other teams. Above all the finals were great fun!”

The Highland Cadet Forces Trust provided a grant to the RAF Air Cadets to help cover the cost of their travel from the Western Isles on February 29. Despite the team impressing the judges with their strong presentation and innovation project, Stewarton Academy from Kilmarnock took top prize. The champions qualify for the international World Festival.

The LEGO trophies reflect the innovative and fun nature of the competition.

Aside from building on knowledge and skills, the competition’s main focus is teaching these individuals about core values. The teams are required to demonstrate the FIRST LEGO League Core Values such as innovation, teamwork and inclusion throughout the competition.

A staff member said: “The First Lego League STEM competition has been a fantastic project for the squadron. It has been really good to see the team grow in confidence along the journey, I am extremely proud of them. The range of skills learnt and applied along the way has been truly impressive, from coding the robots to research techniques for the innovation project. The cadets have really bonded over this competition and are already planning next year’s entry!”

Squadron staff on the day were Flying Officer Jason Spinks and Pilot Officer James Mockeridge. Also supporting the cadets at the event were Wing Commander Christine Copsey and Squadron Leader (Rtd.) William Ritchie.

For the full story on the RAF Air Cadets from Stornoway winning the top prize in the FIRST LEGO League ‘City Shaper’ Western Isles Regional Tournament, click HERE.

To find out more about the RAF Air Cadets click HERE.

For more information on the FIRST LEGO League events, click HERE.

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