iHangar hosts the First Lego League (FFL)

At the Innovation Hangar we are gearing up for our Summer of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics), and as a prelude of sorts to this initiative, we were proud to once again host the First Lego League, who held a two-day educational event in our building from March 4th to the 5th. The league (or FFL) is an international competition organized by FIRST in partnership with the LEGO Group. Elementary and middle school students are gathered into teams and assigned tasks to complete, with each task focusing on a globally-relevant subjects such as environmental degradation, food safety, recycling, renewable energy, and more. All of these subjects are deeply important to us here at the iHangar.

 Student exhibits lining one side of 'Broadway', one of our open spaces available for event rentals, March 4th, 2017.

Student exhibits lining one side of 'Broadway', one of our open spaces available for event rentals, March 4th, 2017.

 Students, parents and guests hanging out in the iHangar's atrium during day one. The awards ceremony pavilion is pictured in the background, March 4th, 2017.

Students, parents and guests hanging out in the iHangar's atrium during day one. The awards ceremony pavilion is pictured in the background, March 4th, 2017.

 A student from team 'Robo Maniacs' explains her project to curious guests, March 4th, 2017.

A student from team 'Robo Maniacs' explains her project to curious guests, March 4th, 2017.

 Team 'Potato Cats' educational exhibit, March 4, 2017 (photo by Dustyn Buchanan, iHangar)

Team 'Potato Cats' educational exhibit, March 4, 2017 (photo by Dustyn Buchanan, iHangar)

Of course, keeping young minds active and engaged requires an element of fun, so while they put their heads together and discuss solutions, they also got to build LEGO Mindstorms robots to help complete their tasks. The students work out solutions to the various problems they are given and then meet for regional tournaments to share their knowledge, compare ideas, and display their robots to other teams.

 One of the teams sits with its six-wheeled projectile-throwing robotic rover, March 4th, 2017

One of the teams sits with its six-wheeled projectile-throwing robotic rover, March 4th, 2017

iHangar's Director of Technology Education, David Caditz, shared his experience as a high school science teacher to young students looking for advice on problem solving and innovation. As Caditz also serves as the lead designer on the SF State Solar Car project (as to detailed on our blog soon), his technical knowledge on designing and building experimental vehicles proved invaluable to the students.

 David Caditz speaks with students on the subject of educational innovation and problem solving, March 4th, 2017.

David Caditz speaks with students on the subject of educational innovation and problem solving, March 4th, 2017.

Students, teachers and family gathered in the pavilion on the afternoon of day two, to hear from the judges regarding which team had impressed them the most, and would eventually travel to the finals in Virginia. Before the announcements were made, however, Innovation Hangar founder and curator Dan Shine took to the stage to talk briefly about what we do here, and how the public can help keep our efforts going. "We have been open to the public for two years and seven days," he said, adding, " We've actually had 1.4 million people come here since that day, and while you've brought your incredible inventions, products and art here today, we've also got other exhibits in the space on a daily bases, like 3D-printers and printed objects, solar-powered drones, VR and more," he said.

"We are working on our most ambitious project to date, the Summer of STEAM. We have a matching grant right now with indiegogo, and any dollar you give gets doubled and matched. Donations also help propel us to the front page of indiegogo, and our campaign has already been featured on indiegogo's Silicon Valley page. We're very hopeful you'll all be back here next year, or sooner; as we would like to have you guys in here during the summer to showcase your designs and exhibits to the estimated 2,000 people a day who enter the Hangar. I'm sure you'd agree they would all like to see what you have created so far," he said.

"Congratulations to all of you, we are really glad you're here," he concluded, before leaving the stage so the announcement could be made.  In the end, it was team 10, otherwise known as R2-Bee2, who won the Northern California nominee award for their project SafeHive.

 Team R2-bee2 posing with their award document, March 5th, 2017

Team R2-bee2 posing with their award document, March 5th, 2017

Stay tuned for more details about the Innovation Hangar's upcoming events, programs, and exhibits.