Peterborough-based Whirlpool launches FIRST LEGO League tournament for city schools

The FIRST LEGO League UK Final, February 2019
The FIRST LEGO League UK Final, February 2019
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Whirlpool Corporation, the world’s largest domestic appliance manufacturer which has its UK headquarters in Peterborough, is launching a FIRST LEGO League tournament for schools in the local area.

Taking place at the company’s head office in Woodston on Saturday, January 18, 2020, the tournament will see 10 teams of up to 10 pupils each compete in a series of project-based, robotics and teamwork-led challenges.

FIRST LEGO League is a global science and technology challenge for nine to 16-year-olds which sees more than 310,000 young people in 38,800 teams, from across 100 countries, come together to develop their STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) skills.

Sponsorship for the event at Whirlpool includes all entry fees and a LEGO Mindstorms robot provided to the schools. Registered teams so far include Longthorpe Primary School, West Town Primary Academy, Newark Hill Academy and Sawtry Junior School.

Designed to encourage young people to take an interest in real world issues and develop technology skills, FIRST LEGO League helps pupils to engage in their education and also nurtures important teamwork, problem-solving and life skills. The challenge is split into three key parts: the Robot Game, Core Values and the Innovation Project.

In preparation for the Robot Game, teams of young people will build and programme a LEGO Mindstorms robot to autonomously complete a series of challenges and score points on a themed playing field.

This year’s theme, CITY SHAPER, is based around architecture and the spaces that we live in and, for the Innovation Project, teams are invited to explore issues such as transportation, accessibility and natural disasters, questioning ‘how can we shape a better future for everyone?’ and presenting a solution to the problem.

Throughout the entire programme, teams will operate under, and be asked to demonstrate, the FIRST Core Values, celebrating discovery, innovation, impact, inclusion, teamwork and fun.

Ian Moverley, public affairs director for Whirlpool, said: “FIRST LEGO League plays an extremely important role in introducing school children to STEM and helping them to develop the skills they will need for future careers.

“We’ve previously followed the tournament and were always keen to get involved. It’s great that now through our sponsorship we can enable a wide variety of schools to get stuck in and begin their FIRST LEGO League journey.

“I’m looking forward to welcoming the teams to our tournament in January and seeing how their skills develop over the coming months.”

FIRST LEGO League is one of four programmes offered by FIRST. Winners of the Whirlpool tournament will be given the opportunity to progress to the national final in February and then on to the World Festival in Detroit, Michigan, from April 29 – May 2.

The operational partner of FIRST LEGO League in the UK and Ireland is the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET).

Lowri Walton, IET education manager – FIRST LEGO League, said: “We are enormously pleased to expand the IET FIRST LEGO League in the UK with the addition of the Whirlpool tournament in Peterborough. FIRST LEGO League gives young people the valuable opportunity to work in teams and develop crucial skills such as problem solving, communication and confidence.

“This year’s CITY SHAPER challenge asks young people to be inquisitive and design innovative solutions to problems that are faced by architects on a daily basis. Every year we are so inspired by what we see – I’m excited to see how this year pans out.”

There are still three sponsored places available for the Whirlpool tournament. Teams can be school groups, scout groups or simply a team of friends, but each team will need at least two adult coaches.

They can be made of up to 10 individuals, aged 9 to 16 years. For the opportunity to take part, email Joanna Colley at