FEBE launches FIRST LEGO League Robotics Competition season 

by Mosima Rafapa

24 August 2023

For the past 15 years, The Tshwane University of Technology’s (TUT) Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment (FEBE) has managed the South African branch of the FIRST LEGO League (FLL). On 5 August, schoolchildren celebrated the launch of the 2023 Robotics competition season, themed Masterpiece, at Dinokeng on the Pretoria Campus.

The FIRST LEGO League programme aims to introduce science and technology to young children through playful introduction to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programmes, using LEGO materials.

 The theme, Masterpiece, is geared to inspire young children to use art and engineering to express their interests and hobbies through LEGO models, highlighting the role STEM plays in the arts. During the 2023 season, FLL teams worldwide will use innovation to create and share art. 

Johannes de Vries, Technologist and Programme Manager at TUT’s Department of Electrical Engineering, explained that the programme initially focused on teaching engineering skills to older children, providing exposure to real-world engineering problems. The various FLL Divisions introduce young children to science, engineering, and technology through mentorship programs and adult coaches. 

Since FLL Discover caters to ages 4-6, children as young as four years old can now participate. Other divisions include FLL Explore for ages 6-10 and FLL Challenge for children aged 9-16.

De Vries explained that involving children as young as four in robotics leads to the development of important skills such as teamwork and presentation. The older children engage in research, seek innovative solutions and build problem-solving robots with LEGO robotic sets. Many develop an interest and love for maths and science, even changing their subject choices after competing in national and international competitions. This experience often makes studying engineering possible.

TUT has managed school children not only in South Africa, but also in neighbouring countries such as Botswana, Zimbabwe, Eswatini and Namibia.

FEBE Executive Dean, Dr Grace Kanakana-Katumba said, “Through initiatives of this nature, FEBE welcomes the children to the world of science and engineering. In this season, they will work together to learn and create magic. STEM knowledge is essential in the arts and entertainment industry. Significant experiences are created with the help of scientists, engineers and technologists. I would like to encourage them to think creatively and forget about their limitations. Nothing is impossible. This is only the first step towards being problem solvers and innovators."

”For more information on how to get your child's school involved in the FLL or to volunteer at an event, please contact Johannes de Vries devriesj@tut.ac.za

 Dr Patricia Gouws.
 Lara Gouws.

For more information on the Tshwane University of Technology, please contact Phaphama Tshisikhawe, Corporate Affairs and Marketing.
Tel: +27 12 382 4711  Email: tshisikhawerpt@tut.ac.za