From a Wookie to a band of mini-pirates, teams of all shapes and sizes filled the halls of Albion Middle School Saturday, Jan. 16, for a FIRST LEGO League regional competition hosted by Canyons School District.
Students from Salt Lake and Utah counties brought robots, posters, costumes and candy to the school as they nervously waited to present their projects to a host of volunteer judges.
More than 50 volunteers parents, grandparents, business leaders, teachers and Canyons District employees recruited by Canyons Education Foundation helped run the event. On average, each volunteer donated about 20 hours of their time to prepare for the competition, but seeing the excitement in students’ faces as they anxiously prepared their robots and slapped high-fives at a job well done made every minute worth it, said Brittani Bailey, partnerships and volunteer coordinator for Canyons Education Foundation.
“If you have an 8-year-old who can build a robot that can throw a ball through a hoop, that’s pretty impressive to me,” Bailey said. “I am blown away by people who show up to volunteer and help these kids.” Â
Each FIRST LEGO League team is judged on their ability to demonstrate positive teamwork, explain how they created their robot, propose a solution to solve this year’s theme of trash disposal and make their robot perform specific tasks in a timed setting. The FIRST LEGO League program was created to engage students and inspire an interest in science, technology, engineering and math in students ages 9-14.
Two Canyons District teams Byte Force from Quail Hollow Elementary, and Ninja Sloths from Mount Jordan Middle participated at Saturday’s competition at Albion, while other Canyons teams participated at other locations.Â Byte Force and the Ninja Sloths won’t be advancing to the state championship on Jan. 30 at Utah Valley University a goal the teams have been working toward since the tournament season began in September but their efforts were far from a failure.
“The kids on my team got a chance to learn how to problem solve real life examples as a team,” said Kristi Kimble, team leader for the Ninja Sloths and teacher at Mount Jordan. “During the competition they said several times, both to the judges and myself, that they didn’t care if they won anything because they felt like they improved from last year, they were having fun, and they worked hard. They can’t wait to come back again next year.”Â