On Saturday, kids from across the state proved what they can do, when they put their minds to something. Fairmont State University hosted the FIRST LEGO League Tournament. This is the 14th year for the tournament, but organizers said it was the biggest turn out the state's ever seen.
The theme was Senior Solutions. Middle schoolers competed to build robots out of legos that performed tasks. Tasks that aim to improve the quality of life for seniors.
Kids and their robots. That's what could be found on the campus of Fairmont State University Saturday. Over 1,000 people flooded the University for the FIRST LEGO League Tournament. The tournament is an international robotics program, the combined efforts of Lego and FIRST organization, which aims to inspire more children to pursue math or science careers.
Fifty teams of middle schoolers competed by building robots out of legos.
Todd Ensign, Tournament Director, said, "They had to build a robot and program that robot to do autonomous tasks like pick up or knock over bowling pins, or turn off a stove in this year's scenario."
These kids were taking on adult roles, not only with the advanced assignment, but with their character as well.
"They also get evaluated on team work and how they work together. We call that core values here at FLL," added Ensign.
One competitor told us what he learned. "Team work, don't yell at people, and just be nice," said Nathaniel Kowalski, a student at West Fairmont Middle.
So, how exactly did these kids build a robot that actually moves around?
"They work on a program on the computer, and once they get the program the way they want it, they actually program a small box on the robot, and that's what controls it. But they have to build the robot first, then build the program in the computer and then transmit the program to the robot," said Bonnie Bailey, a parent from Bible Center School in Charleston.
That does not sound easy. It does sound time consuming, which it was. The teams had 3 months to come up with a solution to the challenge. Often times, meeting after school and on weekends. The winning team will go to nationals in St. Louis.
Learning to construct and build robots: check. Learning to develop social skills by working as a team: check. Parents learning something from their kids: check!
"Oh, I think for us, we've been able to shine and watch our children. Just have that parent glow that your child's been able to succeed and work together. They think of things that you would never believe a child could think of," said Bonnie Bailey.