Students compete with Lego robotics at York Technical College

rsouthmayd@heraldonline.comDecember 6, 2013 

Anyone who thinks Legos are just toys has clearly never been to a First Lego League competition.

At York Technical College on Friday, hundreds of students from area schools gathered to show off their advanced Lego robotics skills and demonstrate their innovation and creativity.

“The overall theme (of First Lego League) is gracious professionalism,” said event organizer Cree Stout. “We have a challenge they have each year that they have to meet.”

This year’s challenge was “Nature’s Fury,” so students built their Lego devices to respond to or prepare for natural disasters.

The competition is broken down into several categories, but Stout said the one the students look most forward to is the table competition, where their devices have just three minutes to complete tasks such as acting out a rescue of dogs and cats and releasing a rescue helicopter – all with a Lego vehicle smaller than a phone book.

As their three minutes wrapped up with several tasks completed, Saluda Trail Middle School team member Joseph Illenz said he was happy with his team’s performance.

“We did great today,” he said. “It was awesome.”

Illnez said he wants to be robot programmer when he grows up.

The work the kids do to create these Lego robots and prepare for competition is amazing, said several team parents and coaches.

“It’s really exciting to watch the kids execute all of these things they’ve been working on,” said Mickela Mitchell, whose son is on the Saluda Trail team.

For the Clover Middle School team, preparing for First Lego League is as much about research and cooperation as it is about engineering skills.

“We had to learn about teamwork and how to work together,” said team member Christian Pearson.

But as teams prepared to use their robots, adjusting angles and making plans, it was pretty obvious there was a lot of math and science involved, much to the delight of parents and coaches.

“It’s thrilling,” Mitchell said. “These skills are super-important for the world that we’re facing.”

Friday’s event at York Tech was a regional qualifier for the 2014 state competition in Columbia. The winner from that competition will advance to the World Festival. Around the world, more than 228,000 children will participate in this year’s First Lego League.

The schools with teams advancing to the state competition in 2014 are: Hughes Academy, Greenville Hawthorne Christian Academy, Chester Orchard Park Elementary, Fort Mill

Rachel Southmayd •  803-329-4072

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