Shining Star: Robotics for Children with Special Needs


In 2011, Livingston Robotics Club created this Shining Star Robotics initiative to offer assistance and mentoring in forming a special league of robotics teams for children with special needs and learning differences, in order for these students to have an opportunity to participate in one of the most exciting robotics programs, the FIRST robotics programs.

Our first Shining Star team was formed in the FIRST LEGO League division (ages 9-14) during the “Food Factor” season in 2011. The members of Landrias, an all-girl FLL team of LRC, along with a member of Landroids (who was a graduate of Landrias), changed their role from being FLL participants for many years to a new role of mentoring this rookie team.

The LRC Shining Star FLL team competed in a regional qualifying tournament with other neighborhood and school teams from general education, and won the Judges’ Award at the qualifier, which was an impressive accomplishment for these children in their rookie season.  It was also proven that our coaching model, with parents as their own children’s mentors, works well with any children.

In March 2012, LRC formed another Shining Star team in the Junior FIRST LEGO League division (ages 6-9). Parents with children with special needs who have interests in LEGO building and science-related topics came to our open house on March 25, 2012 and form a team right after the meeting. The LRC Shining Start Jr.FLL team participated in LRC Jr.FLL Expo on May 26, 2012.

During the 2012-13 season, another Jr.FLL Shining Star team was formed. The team met once a week for eight weeks. Team members went to a field trip to learn what have been changed in the last 50 years to improve the lives of seniors. Children also learned how to use LEGO WeDo Robotics kit to make their model moves. The team participated in LRC Jr.FLL Expo on May 25, 2013.

As of 2014, there are 1 FLL and 1 Jr.FLL teams. The goal for the teams is to cater all learning differences.

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