Middle School students compete in robotics competition

La Crosse FIRST LEGO League looks at trash problems

Middle-school engineers flooded La Crosse Saturday to put their skills to the test at a robotics tournament.

13 teams from western-Wiscosnin competed against each other at the La Crosse FIRST LEGO League.

First, each team had to build a robot. Then they had to pick a piece of trash, find a problem with how it is handled, and then come up with their own innovative way to handle it using the robot.

Tournament officials say it’s amazing just how much these kids accomplish in only a couple of months.

“The challenge does look monumental. The programming that they have to do, they have to design and build their robot, they have to come up with their own strategies, they have to pick a research topic, find a problem, research existing solutions, propose an innovative solution, share it with others, and find a way to present their work. It’s a lot of work in 8 to 10 weeks and it all comes down to this one day of just chaotic excitement,” said La Crosse FIRST LEGO League Tournament Co-Director Paul Halter.

And while this competition is a lot of work, the students involved come out of it feeling more confident in their own abilities.

“As you get more comfortable with the team and the project you start to gain confidence and gain more ability in yourself to realize that you can do this kind of thing,” said La Crosse FIRST LEGO League Competitor Claire Finger.

Of the 13 teams at Saturday’s competition four will move on to sectionals in Appleton and aim for the state tournament in Madison this February.