Regional children compete in First Lego League Championship

MOSCOW, ID - It's not everyday that you see middle schooled children get this excited about learning.

"We still got 50 points," said Kamiah Middle School student Fallon Wilkins. "I don't know how, and then in the second round we did awesome."

Then again, robots and Legos tend to have that effect on people.

"This event here Monday is called the North Idaho First Lego League Championship," said 4-H Youth Development Specialist Tim Ewers. "It is part of the First Lego League Program, a worldwide program."

I'm at the Memorial Gym, here on the University of Idaho campus. Almost 300 hundred kids are here Monday to compete and to have a blast.

"Around September, the children are provided with a challenge and the challenge consists of two major pieces," said Ewers.

This year, the challenge was to investigate senior solutions. The students spent weeks researching and talking with senior citizens to come up with a tool that could help make their life easier.

"When they're a kid, they can have all the fun and excitement," said Coeur d'Alene Charter Academy student Nicolai Epling. "But when they have an injury or something, they can't do much and they're possibly in a wheelchair or a walker and they can't even walk in the park."

In addition to research, they also made robots.

"We built it from just a little tiny square brain," said Wilkins.

Judges gave the teams points, based on their robot's performance. The winners took home a regional champion title, and a trophy. But these kids say the tournament brought something even more special.

"It has brought us closer together, not as a team, but as friends," said Kamiah Middle School student Zoe Wilcox. "We've learned to work together."

"Kind of have fun, in the process of actually creating and programming a robot, as well as doing research to figure out something that will be able to help seniors with an everyday problem that they have," said Coeur d'Alene Charter Academy student Natalie Ancker

After the competition, the students were introduced to the university's robotic drum set. Some of them even got to try playing it themselves. The South Idaho Championship Tournament will be at Canyon Ridge High School in Twin Falls next Saturday.