Blocks help build young minds

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 1, 2006

AHOSKIE – Ole Christiansen and his son Godtfred created the Lego Group in 1949 in Denmark. The name Lego comes from the Danish phrase &uot;leg godt&uot;, which means ‘play well’.

On Saturday, students from Ahoskie Elementary School will travel to North Carolina A&T University in Greensboro to do just that, play well, and hopefully win some awards.

The kids at Ahoskie Elementary are not just stacking blocks.

Today’s youngsters have taken the concept of playing with blocks to another level.

For the past six weeks, fourth, fifth and six graders from the elementary school have been spending time after school preparing for the First Lego League competition to be held this weekend.

They have spent that time strategizing, designing, building, programming and testing a fully autonomous robot capable of completing the various missions of the FFL International &uot;Robot Game&uot;, using the LEGO Mindstorms technology.

Jointly sponsored by F.I.R.S.T. (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) and the Lego Corporation, the competition is to design accessible, innovative programs to build self-confidence, knowledge and life skills while motivating young people to pursue opportunities in science technology and engineering.

With the help of the Lego Corporation, students ages 9-14 (9-16 in Europe) are learning to use cutting edge science and math to become proficient in computer programming and design technique.

The group, which is comprised of 10 students and led by teacher Mark Samberg, is using practical scientific theory coupled with hands on construction to create Lego robots that navigate their way through a series of challenges set up by Lego.

The students also use the worldwide web to talk to scientists, visit the Lego library and develop compelling presentations.

&uot;The competition allows students to determine factors that affect motion,&uot; Samberg said. &uot;Those factors include force, friction, inertia and momentum.&uot;

The students designed a robot from a blueprint and set of programs provided by Lego.

They then were tasked to construct a task-orientated maze where the robot will show how proficient the students are at understanding the relationship between human and robotic interaction.

The competition will also feature a spirit award for the team that shows the most school spirit and enthusiasm about their effort.

A total of 32 countries are participating in the international competition which changes themes every year.

This year’s theme is &uot;Nano Quest: Exploring existing sciences at the molecular level&uot;

Twenty-threeNorth Carolina schools will be competing Saturday.

&uot;The is the first time a school from Hertford County will participate in this event,&uot; Samberg said. &uot;We would love to go there and get a win.&uot;