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Nevis School launches FIRST LEGO League team

Students ages 9 to 14 at Nevis School will have the opportunity to participate in a FIRST LEGO League team this fall.

Tech-No-Tigers Robotics team members Sierra Wroolie and Madeline Mitchell will be student mentors for the LEGO team. They talked about the opportunities the league will provide at Tuesday night's school board meeting.

They explained how the FIRST LEGO program is a gateway to STEM and robotics and teaches kids to become innovative problem-solvers as they build, program and take their robot to competition.

It also includes a project where teams solve a problem and present information to a panel of judges. In addition, the program is designed to help members learn the core values of sportsmanship and teamwork in a competitive environment.

Described as the "JV of robotics," the estimated cost of starting a team is $1,000. That money is coming from a $2,500 grant from the Nevis Fire Department and other grant sources. The money will be used to buy a $470 Mindstorms set and a $75 practice mat as well as pay registration fees for competitions.

The optimum team size for FIRST LEGO League team is three to six students, with a maximum of 10. The board approved using the school for practice sessions and going ahead with the program.

Wroolie and Mitchell said they want to have a team to introduce the world of STEM to kids at a younger age. Their other mission is to encourage other youth organizations in the area to form teams. They will be giving presentations to various youth groups throughout the year. They already gave a presentation at the Park Rapids Area Library's Superstars of STEM event earlier this spring.

Wroolie and Mitchell will attend training in September for serving as student mentors for the FIRST LEGO League team. Kay Netteberg will be the team's adult mentor.

This year's LEGO League challenge will be announced in August. Teams will work for eight weeks to design and program a robot for the competition. Past challenges have included transportation and waste management. Teams research the topic chosen, then come up with solutions.

FIRST LEGO League competitions are held in November and December. Section competitions are held in January, followed by state in February for those who advance and a world championship in April.

Due to the different competition schedules, some of the older students may be able to take part in both the LEGO League and Tech-No-Tigers Robotics teams.

Register for the program by calling Kay Netteberg at 252-6523. Depending on the number of registrations, Nevis could add more teams, if funding is available.

Anyone interested in donating money to the FIRST LEGO League program or being a corporate sponsor should contact Netteberg for more information.