IVC hosts youth Lego robot building competition

Lego competitors put their minds together to build a Lego legacy (Alyssa Hunter/ Lariat)

David Gutman

First Lego League Qualifying competition was hosted Irvine Valley College at the Hart Gymnasium last Saturday.

First Lego League is an international youth-oriented robotics program aimed at children 9 to 14 years old. In it’s eleventh season, FLL has been hosting competitions in over 55 countries with many different themes.

“They are all competing each other in design, innovation, and teamwork,” said David D. Gatewood, IVC’s dean of career technical education. “They have one common goal of going to larger competitions.

This is an international competition sponsored by www.engineers4kidsusa.org and co-sponsored by the Mathoholics group and IVC.

Many youth groups entered the competition from all over Southern California from Orange County, Inland Empire, and Los Angeles counties.

These groups sported unique, colorful names, featuring puns off of Llegos and popular culture. Names such as TRON Legocy from Ladera Ranch, or Legona Beach from Laguna Beach respectively.

“Last year only 13 teams came to compete, this year we had to turn people down because so many competitors signed up, it’s growing exponentially,” said Engineers4kidsUSA.org competition coordinator Danielle Saffer. “IVC has really opened their doors for kids to learn.”

The competitions involved the groups building a robot out of a kit and testing it solving simulated problems moving things on a small course in the middle of the gymnasium.

“These are definitely our future scientists, engineers, and doctors who have come to compete,” Anne Akers IVC Outreach specialist said.

Other competitions were judged not just on performance but on design and how well the group worked together.

While this may seem overly simplistic it seems it is meant to train young engineers what they can do with their ingenuity.

According to Saffer, winners at the IVC competiton will receive an invitational to compete at Legoland in Carlsbad. The next step after that is the International Competition in the spring.

While the Lego competitions took place inside the Hart Gymnasium, many young-adult groups set up tables and demonstrated the capabilities of more advanced robotics that can be built.

These young-adult groups also had unique names such as Code Orange of Orange County. According to Code Orange member Austin Nordman, these groups are generally High School clubs and are able to apply for grants and sponsorship by such companies as JC Penny, Boeing, and NASA.

“The main competition is to inspire kids to learn about robotic technology and the possible careers involved with it,” Nordman said. “This will hopefully give them a greater understanding of what it means to be an engineer. It’s sad because the U.S. needs more engineers, and this will definitely help.”

(Alyssa Hunter/ Lariat)

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