Learning through a Lego League

Violet Verbrigghe and Robby Jasmine, fourth-graders at Mid Peninsula School, compete in Saturday’s FIRST Lego League Challenger qualifier. The event took place at the Glenn T. Seaborg Mathematics and Science Center. (Journal photo by Christie Mastric)

MARQUETTE — The level of competition went beyond the classic toy Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots.

The Glenn T. Seaborg Mathematics and Science Center, located at Northern Michigan University, on Saturday hosted 14 upper elementary school teams from the Upper Peninsula in the FIRST Lego League Challenge qualifier. The event, which took place in Jamrich Hall, gave participants a chance to use robots to advance to the FLL Challenge state tournament scheduled to take place this Saturday in downstate Mason.

Each team constructed robots using Lego Mindstorms to solve various challenges based on real-world problems.

FIRST stands for “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.” The mission is to inspire young people to become science and technology leaders and innovators by engaging them in mentor-based programs that build science, engineering and technology skills; inspire innovation; and foster well-rounded life capabilities, including self-confidence, communication and leadership.

Seaborg Center Director Chris Standerford said the core values of discovery, innovation, impact, inclusion, teamwork and fun come through in the FIRST activities.

“It’s not all just about programming and engineering of the robot,” Standerford said. “There’s a lot of teamwork and collaboration that goes into it as well — public speaking, preparing, managing your project.

“It’s awesome to see. Once they work through those skills, now they’re here today and their robots are just doing amazing things. It’s all wrapped in this exciting venue, a lot of energy. We’ve got music and kids are dancing.”

Trevor Lamarche, a fourth-grader with the Mini Wolverine Circuit Breakers from the Mid Peninsula School, was one of the young participants.

He said the event was “nice” because they got to work with robots, plus he’s learning how to program them.

“It moves and does the missions,” Lamarche said.

Jackson Verbrigghe, another Mid Peninsula School fourth-grader who helped build a robot with his sister Violet, said, “I think it’s kind of neat and I think it’s a fun hobby.”

Taking first in the event were the Super Bots from Gladstone Area Public Schools. The Esky Bots Black from Escanaba Area Public Schools finished secind, with the Capybara Technics from GAPS taking the third spot.


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