Interview with Grade 8 student, Dylan Li

Congratulations, Dylan, on this tremendous success! The Junior School students, teachers and I are really proud of you. Could you please provide us with more details about FLL?

First Lego League (FLL) is a global organization, representing 88 countries. The mission of FLL is to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders and innovators by engaging them in exciting programs that build science, engineering, and technology skills as well as self-confidence, communication, and leadership. Students up to 13 years old can participate. This will be my last year participating in FLL.

How long have you been involved in First Lego League? And how did you get involved?

In 2018, my friends and I were interested in Lego robotics and technology and started talking about joining an organization called FLL; we all agreed, and our team, Funnovate, was created. Every week on Saturday and Sunday, we take 4 hours to prepare together. Before tournament day, we take time off in the evenings to meet. Due to COVID, we have been collaborating more online.

Do you have a role model in the field of Lego robotics? If so, who and why?

My role models are my Dad and my coach. They show perseverance, determination and strong leadership and have taught me not to give up and to keep working hard on these competitions.

Why do you think your team won the Innovation Award?

We won this award for creating a solution, the app FitFriends, for those who are not motivated to engage in physical exercise. In developing this app, we conducted research by designing a survey which surprisingly 99 people completed and shared their feedback about why they lacked motivation. Additionally, we consulted 10 experts and connected with two via Zoom. These experts also gave us feedback on our product and tips on how to improve it.

How did you get interested in this topic?

Lack of motivation with physical activity seems to be a massive issue in our society, and we wanted to find a solution to this societal problem. The app seemed like a good idea to help motivate people, especially adults and teenagers, interested in exercising.

I imagine this has been a challenging year working with your team with the COVID-19 safety measures in place. How did your team adapt to this new reality?

We have communicated using video conferencing to research, design and develop the project solution and program our robot game. We have also created many Google documents to allow for online collaboration. Within the Google Doc, we have created a homework board and then we have highlighted in green when action items are completed. We have also practiced together and resolved issues about the robot via Zoom. Since the lockdown has ended, we have been meeting face to face, with masks and distancing, of course!

What have you learned at Ashbury that has helped you compete in FLL?

I have learned that teamwork and fun should accompany all competitions. It should never only be about the competition; there are so many important skills that we learn along the way. At Ashbury, I have also learned key teambuilding skills and how to better communicate. Last year, IDP (interdisciplinary studies) helped me refine my presentation skills. I used to be very shy but with all the oral presentations I have done at school, I have become more confident. Debating Club at Ashbury has also helped me with my presentation and research skills and math class has helped me continue to build my coding skills.

And what have you learned about yourself since participating in FLL?

I have learned not to give up and to persevere. The only reason I don’t give up is because I enjoy this a lot. I like working with robots and I have also learned a lot about FLL’s core values-innovation, impact, teamwork, fun, discovery and inclusion.

If you could prepare again for the competition, what would you do differently?

We should have prepared better on the robot game. We did not have enough time to record our game and we were unable to achieve our highest score.

How will you prepare for the provincials?

We don’t need to prepare too much. We already have the main outline; we are just touching up the project in the design and game area. As preparation, we need to rehearse building a robot to complete missions in order to gain as many points as possible in a time span of 2 min 30 seconds and we need to show the FLL core values to the judges through our presentation online.

What advice would you give to a Junior School student interested in FLL?

FLL has been a great help to me. It should be for everyone interested in STEM. It teaches us how to cooperate with our teammates and learn more about STEM in a hands-on environment. There are also three critical factors in competing in FLL- perseverance, determination, and fun.

Finally, do you know what you would like to study in Senior School, University and then pursue as a career? For Senior School, I signed up for computer studies. I want to learn more about how to program and I am also thinking of doing the International Baccalaureate program in Grade 11 and 12. In so far as university, I am thinking at this point of studying mathematics and computer technology with the idea of becoming a mathematician or a computer engineer.

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