Local Lego League team goes to state

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Muscatine’s Lego League Team is headed to the state-wide competition on January 14 at Iowa State University in Ames. Muscatine’s Lego League has two teams of about 40 students. There is one 5th grade group and one 8th grade group. Lego Leagues can range anywhere from 4th grade to 8th grade, but Muscatine only has two teams as of now. Lego Leagues can be sponsored by a school or church, and Muscatine’s 5th grade team is sponsored by Mulberry School.

The two main components to competing are the skills the robot can complete and the real-world research that the students do. Jen Simmering and her husband are in charge of the 8th grade group. She said that a few kids come over every day after school to work on the robot that they are making. Once a week, the students will work on a research project for their competition as well. The robot has to be able to do different skills when it gets in front of judges. It has to complete an obstacle course and do things such as pick up items, flip a switch, or move something from one place to another.

This year’s real-world challenge was to find a way that animals and humans interact and find a way to strengthen that relationship. The 5th grade team chose to examine the interaction of humans and bats. They want to raise awareness about bats and try to make people less afraid of them. The students held an event at Discovery Park where they built bat houses. The 8th grade group studied the interaction of humans and deer. They wanted to raise awareness of deer being hit by cars and did research on animal detection systems that make you more likely to see the deer coming before you hit it.

Lego League is worldwide and is about more than just building robots. It teaches values such as professionalism, team problem solving, and cooperating with other teams.

“Lego League has things any kid can benefit from. Getting involved in Lego League is one of the best things my husband and I have ever done,” says Simmering.

Lego League is something anyone can be involved in. Go to FirstLegoLeague.org to learn more about being a part of a team. Good luck to both Muscatine teams at state!