Assignment: Education - FIRST LEGO League

Published On: Nov 30 2010 11:08:09 AM CST   Updated On: Nov 30 2010 11:08:00 AM CST

It may look like these boys are just playing with Legos, but they're using science and engineering skills to build robots and research biomedical engineering.

"The theme is body forward. It's medical science," said Zach Miller, G-E-T 8th grader.

This team of 6 G-E-T 7th and 8th graders are participating in the annual FIRST LEGO League competition. The event consists of two categories: design a robot to perform medically-related tasks and complete a research project based on the year's theme.

"They have decided to research nanobots as a fight or cure for cancer," said Don Lanik, G-E-T Middle School science teacher and FIRST LEGO League coach.

The boys also spent time programming this robot created from Legos.

"The game board they are working with has different medically-related tasks," said Lanik. "And they have to program the robot to do that... accomplish a task. Each task is worth a certain number of points."

This team of 6 had planned to have almost two months to prepare their robot and their presentation for the regional competition. But that plan changed.

"We thought we'd be competing December 4 in Minnesota at a regional competition in Minnesota, but they had such an increase in teams this year that they wouldn't allow any out-of-state teams in their tournaments," said Lanik. "So, we had to prepare in 2 1/2 weeks for the Wisconsin regional.

In early November, these boys traveled to UW-Stout and competed against 17 teams. And despite their limited preparation time, they qualified to compete at the state tournament.

"I was really surprised," said Miller. "Cause it didn't seem like we were gonna. I mean I knew we probably could, but didn't expect it."

"It's credit to them that they were able to do so well so quickly," said Lanik.

Now, the boys are working together to perfect their project as they prepare to compete against 48 teams in the state competition.

"We're making missions better that we've already done and making sure that they work," said Colton Lysker, G-E-T 7th grader. "And we continue on to other missions and make sure those missions work."

The team coach says these boys are smart, hard working and think outside the box. He says their success has very little to do with him.

"There are engineers here. No doubt about it," said Lanik. "They will make a difference in what they do."