'Endless possibilities' for kids at LEGO tourney

Joshua Fischlin | Telegraph-Journal
Saturday, November 30

ROTHESAY • Rothesay Netherwood School's Heritage Hall was buzzing with the sounds of machines and technologically-minded young students Friday afternoon.
 
That's because the school was hosting New Brunswick's inaugural FIRST LEGO League robotics tournament, which saw 18 teams of Grade 4 to 8 students from around the province involved in robot-based competitions.
 
“This is the opportunity for kids all across the province right from Bathurst to Edmundston, right down to Saint John, to compete," said Tammy Earle, one of two event co-ordinators, and director of technology and learning initiatives at RNS.
 
She added that they started doing LEGO robotics two years ago, but had to travel to Acadia University in Nova Scotia for past competitions.
 
Friday'sevent was put on by RNS, FIRST LEGO League, Acadia Robotics, and Brilliant Labs. It also featured 40 to 50 volunteers, Earle said.

“The number of people who came together to make this happen is really exciting to see.”
 
The morning began with presentations about core values, followed by the games in the afternoon.
 
Mary-EllenWilcox, another event co-ordinator, said the game involved building a robot out of LEGO, and moving LEGO pieces around a board to different challenges involving lifting, pushing, or pulling to score points.
 
Earle said what gets her really excited about the event is to see the students not give up.
 
"They persevere. And I have students who really will come back and try, and try again.”
 
Malea Simpson, 10, a student at Barnhill Memorial School, said she finished two rounds of the game, and one of their codes was broken. They turned on their robot, and it did a circle, went back, did a bigger circle, and then went back again. They were trying to make it go straight, she said.
 
But the young coder said she was learning from the experience. 
 
It just kind of helps you for what you need to fix on it," she said, adding that it's important to learn to fix things, "because when I get older that could help in life."
 
Connor Jacques, 13, from Superior Middle School, said it was his first time doing robotics, and "it's been really fun."
 
"Ireally happy I’m here.”
 
He already codes at home, and said he loves it.
 
Patrick Nobbs works in administration at RNS, and was one of the referees and judges at Friday's competition. He said it's amazing to see the innovative ways the kids solve problems.
 
It just makes me think what they’re going to be able to do when they’re older. And the endless possibilities that are there.”
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