First Lego League Qualifier

About 200 kids, ages 9 to 14, convened on January 11, 2014 at Weber State University for an innovation robotics competition aimed at sparking interest in science and technology. The event was hosted by The College of Applied Science & Technology and Hill Air Force Base STEM Outreach. This is the third year for WSU to be involved with FIRST LEGO League.

FIRST LEGO League competitions are designed to introduce school-age children to real-world engineering challenges by building LEGO “Mind storm” robots to complete prescribed tasks. Participants design, build, test, and program the robots while applying math and science concepts, researching challenges, learning critical-thinking, team-building and presentation skills, and competing in tournaments.

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is a non-profit organization, founded in 1989, that has created a set of robotic competition programs designed to excite and inspire students to excel in math and science. 
“The FIRST organization recognizes that if you catch kids during their development and you ignite an interest or confidence in math, science or engineering, the odds of them following a path like that will be that much stronger,” said Rainie Ingram, student recruitment and Science Technology Engineering Programs (STEP) director for WSU’s College of Applied Science & Technology (COAST).
After an eight-week research, design, and build period, teams take turns navigating their robots through a variety of  challenges on thematic playing fields. This year’s tournament theme was “Nature’s Fury,” with a focus on solutions to solve problems that come with storms, earthquake waves, and other natural disasters. Teams also compete for robot design, innovation project presentation, and other awards (like friendly competition and gracious professionalism).

To keep the competition friendly, team members, coaches, and
parents often wear silly outfits or hats. “The most important thing is to have fun,” Ingram said. “The mission is to
get kids excited about science and technology.”
Ingram said WSU benefits by having the youngsters and their parents exposed to the university and its programs,

especially those in COAST. “There are statistics that show that every time a secondary student visits a university

or college setting, it increases the odds of them pursuing a degree in higher education.”
According to FIRST there are 20,000+ LEGO League teams in over 70 countries. 

Written By Melina Padilla