If You Build it, You Might Win

Lego Robots Wow Crowds at WSU

Who knew playing with Legos could be so respectable? About 200 innovative youngters competed for top honors in a FIRST Lego League Qualifying Tournament hosted by WSU’s College of Applied Science & Technology (COAST) on Jan. 14. FIRST stands for “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.” The program inspires future innovators, scientists and engineers, ages nine to 19, with real-world challenges using math and science. This year's tournament theme is "Food Factor," with a focus on food handling and safety. 

COAST partnered with the National Defense Education Program through Hill Air Force Base to host the competition. Of the 55 volunteers involved in the event, at least 80 percent were HAFB employees with the remainder consisting of WSU faculty and student volunteers. We could not have hosted such a large event without volunteer support. A BIG THANK YOU to the volunteers who supported our event! YOU made this great event possible. 

COAST sponsored two teams for the competition. Garth Tuck from Computer Science coached the Horace Mann Falconbots, which won first place in the robot competition, and first place overall. Three students from COAST and the College of Science, Alex Marcum, Murielle Parkinson and Trescott Jensen, coached Team No Name, which won first place in the project category. The top seven teams advanced, and the Falconbots and No Namers met 46 other teams at the University of Utah on Saturday, Jan. 28. 

FIRST LEGO League competitions are designed to introduce school age children to real-world engineering and technology challenges by building LEGO Mindstorms robots to complete prescribed tasks. Participants design, build, test and program the robots, apply math and science concepts, research challenges, learn critical thinking, team building and presentation skills, then compete at tournaments. To keep the competition friendly, team members, coaches and parents often wear silly outfits or hats. The most important thing is to have fun and get young people excited about science, engineering and technology.

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.

After an eight-week research, design, and build period, teams take turns navigating their robots through a variety of challenges on thematic playing fields. Teams also compete for robot design, innovative project presentation and other awards, such as Friendly Competition and Gracious Professionalism.