TAIPEI, Taiwan - A group of elementary school students from Kaohsiung recently won the gold medal in the 2014 First Lego League Open Championship held in the United States.
FIRST LEGO League Open Championships are robotics competitions held and managed by FIRST LEGO League (FLL) Partners. The competitions are open to FLL teams from many states, regions and countries which compete in host cities all over the world.
"Crisis awareness has fueled the children's creativity to build their own robots," said the principal of Kaohsiung's Linyuan Elementary School, Chen Yung-cheng. Being an area that relies on petrochemical industries and provides a less-advantaged living environment, the students in Linyuan still aspired to form a robot-building team after being coached by the school's mechanical power club.
The team had dubbed itself the "Oh My God Team," consisting of club members that were highly interested in robotics and often visited science museums to increase their knowledge of building robots.
Due to their living environment and the lack of certain resources, the children developed crisis awareness from a young age, said Chen. This awareness and their understanding of the scopes of natural disasters have encouraged them to design their robots.
The team's robot was built to adapt to dire situations like a tsunami, escaping from traps and breaking through obstacles. These are all conditions that may occur in a catastrophe. The robot's abilities pleased the judges and won the students first place.
Having built a robot that earned praise at school, the students then faced another problem: The competition was held in Missouri, which would cost the students a large sum to travel to and from. A local radio station decided to pitch in and sponsored the team's trip to the tune of nearly NT$1 million (S$41,600) , solving the students' predicament before the competition date.
The students not only excel in designing robots and studying mechanical power, they also learned how to market their designs during their trip. The team also took a month's worth of English classes in order to prepare themselves for the competition, said Chen, who proudly boasts of the students' achievements.