BLACKFOOT — Idaho Science and Technology Charter School hosted the FIRST LEGO League regional qualifying tournament Saturday. Seventeen teams from Blackfoot, Idaho Falls and Ammon gathered in the gym to complete for five spots at the state tournament in December. The competition is open to students ages 9-14.
Two teams from Mountain View Middle School — Crazy Bananaz and Sanitation Enforcers — received second place trophies in their respective categories.
MVMS technology teacher Doug Turner has coached LEGO League teams for three years. He said the various aspects of the competition including the design and programming of the robot to the research project and presentation help the students develop leadership and teamwork skills.
"It's a robotics competition, but there's way more to it," Turner said. "It's a really great way to build teamwork skills."
This year's challenge, in partnership with the University of Idaho Extension 4-H program, is called "Food Factor." To successfully complete the challenge, teams of young people must conduct research and build and program a LEGO robot to explore the ways in which food can become contaminated — from exposure to insects and creatures, to unsterile processing and transportation to unsanitary preparation and unsafe storage — and then propose real-world solutions for preventing or combating these contaminates. Through hands-on experience and working in teams, the students have a chance to explore a real-world issue to gain an appreciation for and interest in science and technology.
The FLL competition is judged in four areas: project presentation; robot performance; technical design and programming of the robot and teamwork. The MVMS Crazy Bananaz team took second place in robot design, and Sanitation Enforcers finished second place in presentation.
"The kids did awesome," Turner said.
The State FLL Championship will be Dec. 19 at the University of Idaho in Moscow. From there, teams will have the opportunity to participate at the FIRST LEGO League World Festival, to be held in conjunction with the FIRST Championship, April 25-28 in St. Louis, Mo.