Can teams from the FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL) help us to ‘master’ natural disasters? This idea was explored at this year’s ‘NATURE’S FURY℠ Challenge’, with over 850 children aged 9 to 16 from all over Malaysia converging to see how technology can be tapped into to help humanity tackle the devastating effects of destructive storms, earthquakes, tsunamis and other natural disasters. The teams’ focus would centre on what can be done at the places people live, work, and play.
This year’s edition of the FLL saw a jam-packed venue with 170 coaches, 200 volunteers and 40 judges in various categories. Organized by SasbadiSdnBhd, this year’s event featured some of the nation’s best talents at work. R.E.A.L Schools, Cahaya Campus is no stranger to the FLL and this time chose to send a brand new team comprising of students from Junior 5, 6 and Senior 1 to face the wrath and challenges of Nature’s Fury, so to speak.
Past challenges have been based on topics such as nanotechnology, climate, quality of life for the handicapped, and transportation. By designing challenges around such topics, participants are then required to present their ideas to industry experts. The R.E.A.L Schools team, nicknamed “Light Fusion”, was represented by Syed AlifAzimah, Yaashwanth A/L Jayashankar, Ahmad Mahrus Ali Faris, Ewan Tan Cheng Yuan, James Mathews George, Wan Iqra’ Iman, Benjamin Khoo and led by team captain, NavhinashMathiyalagan. Guidance was provided by two coaches, Ms. Lin Chun Xiu and Mr. Ong Poh Lai.
For the ‘Core Value’ section, teams were locked out from a designated place until their turn arrived for a secret mission. In the mission, the task was to transport a marble and two table tennis balls using a half pipe (PVC tube) as a means to transfer the items from point A to point B. Teamwork was crucial in accomplishing the task as the teams had to form a human chain with precise coordination and timing. Team Light Fusion finished first as very few teams managed to transport all three objects successfully.
The other part of the competition was to present ideas to challenge Nature’s Fury. The R.E.A.L Schools team chose flood mitigation and water diversion techniques to fight flood. Their solution was to create a reactive system with sensors that measure the water flow rate in the drains and provide real-time information to the system. This allows the system to automatically divert the flow with generator-pumps in order to minimize or reduce damage to property. This system was modelled after a weighted graph.
Using telemetric techniques on a weighted graph, the nodes or vertices on each line or edge of the graph represent a city and its series of pipes and drainage system. With real-time information given, the system is able to react to the ever-changing rate of natural water flow. Once the capacity of an area has reached a certain limit of the ‘nodes’, the system would then redirect the water by changing the flow rate in the system. This can be done using pumps or by reducing the flow rate through turbines. The unique and innovative part of the idea is to use the energy generated by these turbines to power the pumps.
Meanwhile, this year’s Robot Game Challenge was rather challenging. Students had to build their robots strategically and collect as many points as possible on the playing field. They needed to avoid penalties and the robots must at all times, complete their job in the fastest and most efficient manner. It was worth nothing that the R.E.A.L students were able to modify and change coding on the spot to further enhance their robots. They managed to collect 329 points in the end, a highly commendable effort considering all the team members were first-time FLL participants.
The technical presentation section was equally if not more challenging as the ideas on how the robot was built were being questioned and challenged by the judging panel. This was one area that required students’ sound reasoning, effective communication skills and the ability to ‘think out of the box’. Nevertheless, the team coped well and members managed to answer most of the questions thrown by the judges. Overall, it was a fruitful and enjoyable outing for Team Light Fusion as the students garnered vital knowledge and experience in the FLL. Well Done!
These are what some of them had to say:
“The students showed their competitiveness and team spirit which was not so evident during the practice rounds in school. The teamwork was excellent and what impressed me was the determination to excel. FLL has certainly opened their eyes, hearts and mind. They realized however, that they need to be better equipped and prepared before going at it again next season.”
– Daniel Tsen (Consultant, R.E.A.L Education Group)
“FLL really opened my eyes and I think we need to be better prepared next time. Other teams have got very nice props and they are very good. We need to do that much earlier in order to compete.”
– NavhinashMathiyalagan, 12 (Team Captain)
“I was truly amazed by the great zest and interest that my son, Ewan Tan, showed from the day he started joining FLL. His initial & main objective was to clinch the top prize which was a round trip to the US and Europe. He was pretty confident as he said that the coach was an experienced engineer and the school had a team of enthusiastic team members.
His confidence level was later boosted by the fact that he was selected as a ‘Narrator’. I was so proud of him and feel that he has gained tremendously as a growing boy in terms of character development, knowledge and the ability to handle competitive stress in the real world. In summary, I am glad that he has enjoyed the FLL and would like to express my heartfelt appreciation to all the teachers and management of R.E.A.L Schools who supported him. Thank you and in my opinion, the Cahaya team was in fact the winning team!”
– Kuan Yee, Parent of Ewan Tan (FLL participant)
“First of all I would like to thank R.E.A.L Schools for selecting my son to participate in the FLL. Although he would be sitting for his UPSR this year, I decided to allow him to participate as he convinced me that he would be able to cope and manage his time effectively between studies and the FLL. He agreed to cut down on his playtime, i.e. watching television and other devices.
What I like about the FLL is not the end result but the whole journey. In other words, it is not the end that matters but the means to reach the end. There were good traits exhibited and developed throughout the process. These include commitment (students sacrificed their holidays, weekends, after school hours and lessons to make this happen), effective time management, teamwork (interaction between people learning from each other, collective problem solving, experimentation and questioning each other) and building trust and support for each other.
I witnessed everybody striving towards a common goal and giving morale support to each other. The teachers were very committed, supporting their charges all the way and in the right manner. Sometimes they had to be tough with the students by pushing and stretching their limits in order to unleash their true potential. As a parent, I really appreciate the sacrifice, patience and coaching from the teachers. Good job! The learning will certainly take the students a long way.”
– Saratha A., mother of Nash (FLL participant)