LEGO robot competition gets youth involved with hands-on STEM experiences

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA TV) - An extracurricular activity for middle schoolers and elementary schoolers that involves solving various problems with something can kids play everyday, that's right you guessed it.. LEGOS!

Participants at the FIRST Lego Competition on Saturday. (KOTA TV)

The FIRST Lego Competition challenges students to design and build robots, programming them to perform.

Dr. Jason Ash is the Tournament Director and Associate Professor at the School of Mines and Technology.

"And so the students, what they've done is they've gone through and program the robots to do those things autonomously, so all they do is push the button and they get to watch the robot go and complete the mission," said Ash.

The competition is divided into four parts: core values, project presentation, robot design judging and robot games. Providing a hands-on STEM experience for kids.

"It gives them to be engaged in an activity where they get to explore the STEM careers, but at the same time there's production and performance where they're giving a skit over the project ideas that they have," said Ash.

Just like any competition, preparation is key.

Participants Alison Kennedy, Elyse Friedrich and Elouise Adams on team 'Everything is Awesome' got the maximum amount of points in a competition they could receive.

"This past week we practiced everyday for like two hours," said Kennedy.

More than 100 kids participated split into 19 teams, a record number for the event. But the competition wasn't all about building the best robot.

"Like communicating,..social skills especially, with our project this year we had to talk to a bunch of people and go out into the community and do stuff. So that really helped us learn social skills," said the team.