EDMONTON- The best of the best in the world of Lego robotics converged at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology Saturday. Over 4,500 students from elementary and middle schools across northern Alberta participated in a skills challenge involving programming and robotic mission challenges.
“It’s not the same Lego we grew up with, it’s more advanced,” said Walter Kowalchyk, President of the Alberta Youth Robotics Society. “It’s amazing what the kids are learning here. They’ve taken their math, science and language arts and they’re coming together not only in programming but they’re using all those skill sets to solve a real world problem.”
The theme for this year’s event is ‘trash talk.’ The challenge involves creating and programming a robot out of Lego and then sending it out on a ‘mission’ all while thinking about ways to improve the way trash is disposed.
“The hardest part of today’s competition for the kids is working together under stress,” said Kowalchyk. “They’re learning how to be a team member and how to help out other teams as well.”
The participants range in age from 9 to 14.
“Not everybody can compete using Lego and motors and mechanics,” said 11 year old Alisha Anderson. She added that the robotic programming is the most difficult, but she loves the competition. “You get to see other people and how they’ve done, and their robots, and finally see the results of what your robot can do.”
The winner of Saturday’s competition gets to go onto compete at the international level at Legoland in California.