A local robotics club is heading to Anchorage in January to compete against students from across the state. KMXT went to one of the North Star Elementary School’s Kodiak Brick Bosses practices to see how the team’s preparing for the First Lego League’s Alaska State Championships.
A group of elementary students are huddled around a small robot made out of legos in North Star Elementary School’s lunchroom. They put down the little automaton and to the surprise of their coach it turns on and runs like it is supposed to.
“Oh, seriously! At the competition, this didn’t work”
The Kodiak Brick Bosses, North Star Elementary’s robotics club, practice a few times a week. It’s made up of nine students who compete in competitions against other robotics clubs from around the state in the Alaska division of First Lego League.
While competing, The team has to complete tasks related to a certain theme, which is hydrodynamics this year. The students have constructed a mock sewage system their robot interacts with on different missions. They point out where the lego piping goes and explain what it does, which they find really amusing.
“This one connects to that toilet over there and whenever you press down the brown lego piece.” 2nd child: “The poop, the poop goes down.”
Melissa Alexander coaches the Brick Bosses. She says the kids are learning a lot of skills that will help them in the future, like working as a team to solve difficult challenges.
“Being able to communicate and work with somebody is a pretty difficult task, even as an adult. So it’s kinda awesome that they’re getting to experience this at such a young age.”
The First Lego League isn’t just about robotics. It teaches kids to solve problems they can’t anticipate and not to depend on adults for all the answers. Students on the Brick Bosses regularly teach the adults who help out with the robotics club.
Kristie Wall works with the team. She says when she started she didn’t know very much about robotics, but that wasn’t a problem.
“It was okay that I didn’t know about programming because I would just say hey does anyone know how to do that? And somebody would pipe up.”
Recently, the Brick Bosses qualified to go to the First Lego League’s Alaska State Championship held in Anchorage in January. There the team will compete against other robotics clubs from all around the state. Until then, the Brick Bosses will continue to practice with their robot and prep for the challenges they’ll be competing in.