MCC-Business & Technology campus hosts Lego robotics regional championship

KCStemMore than 400 students in fourth through eighth grades will come together Saturday, Feb. 25, to compete in the FIRST Lego League Regional Championship at MCC’s Business & Technology Campus. The opening ceremony and parade of 46 teams begins at 11:45 a.m. and is free and open to the public.

Participation has skyrocketed in this program that puts elementary and middle school students to work at solving real-world problems and building Lego robots. Saturday’s championship will feature students who advanced from a field of 200-plus teams through five regional qualifier tournaments in November and December, including a new tournament in Columbia, Mo. (The competition at MCC was rescheduled from Jan. 10 due to weather.)

With adult coaches to guide them, FLL teams apply science, engineering and math concepts — plus a big dose of imagination — to develop solutions to real-world challenges. They also design, build and program Lego Mindstorms-based robots to perform autonomous “missions” on a playing field. Along the way, the kids develop critical thinking, team-building and presentation skills.

Jackie Gill, president of MCC-Business & Technology
Jackie Gill, president of MCC-Business & Technology

MCC-Business & Technology President Jackie Gill is looking forward to hosting the students on her campus.

“I am excited to see so many young, bright minds applying science, engineering, technology and math concepts in new ways,” Gill says. “Challenging the students to solve real-world problems will give them the confidence they need to understand that anything is possible. I am honored that we can work with the organizers to ignite students’ passion for learning and to start thinking about higher education.”

She is happy to work with KC STEM Alliance and FIRST Robotics Kansas City to support their efforts of bringing educators, business partners and organizations together to inspire interest in science, technology, engineering and math careers.

FIRST competitions show kids that with science, technology, engineering and math you can solve real-world problems,” said Gretchen Neis, who directs FIRST Lego League and FLL Junior programs for KC STEM Alliance. “The exciting sports-like atmosphere of the tournament allows kids to discover science and technology in a whole new way.”

In addition to competing for a spot at the FIRST World Festival competition in April, teams can win awards in categories such as teamwork, programming, design, research, innovation and creativity at Saturday’s event. Teams can also earn recognition for fulfilling the core values of FIRST, which include gracious professionalism and “coopertition,” which encourages teams to display unqualified kindness and respect in the face of fierce competition.

FIRSTThe schedule of events for Saturday:

7:15 a.m.: Local robotics teams arrive and unload/set up robotics

8:30 a.m.: Practice robot rounds begin

11:45 a.m.: FIRST Lego League opening ceremony and team parade

12:45 p.m.: Official robot rounds begin

3:55 p.m. :  Robot game ends

4:45 p.m.: Awards and closing ceremony

In conjunction with Saturday’s robotics event, visitors also can enjoy exhibits by FIRST Lego League Junior teams and other activities.