By CRAIG MOON
Mention Legos, and some parents recall painful barefoot encounters, vacuum cleaner mishaps and fanciful construction projects.
T-R PHOTO BY CRAIG MOON
Lenihan team Ancient Awesomeness prepares for judging.
On Saturday Marshalltown Community College hosted a LEGO League regional qualifying tournament, where bright enthusiastic 9 to 12 year olds competed not in architecture, but in robotics.
The competition, one of 12 qualifying tournaments in Iowa, hosted 37 central Iowa teams, who competed for the honor of advancing to the January championship at Iowa State University. Teams competed in research presentation, and robotic design and challenge.
The large crowd of team members, parents, coaches, and fans was expertly managed and directed by a dedicated staff of more than 65 volunteers. At the practice course the "Dwarf Planets" one of six teams from Ames Middle School, worked the final bugs out of their robot before moving on to judging.
Joel Neppel worked furiously at the lap top computer and said "I'm busy programming and monitoring the robot's mission."
The competition phase was judged in the gymnasium, with a large crowd of on-lookers supporting the teams from the bleachers while robots negotiated complex obstacle courses. Teresa Stansbury, of Eldora, was supporting daughters Emily and Nicki, who are members of the Hardin County 4H Club.
"I'm still stepping on Legos but I feel vindicated. It's great to see the growth of the children in problem solving, programming, teamwork and presentation," Stansbury said.
Preparing for judging on their presentation a team from Lenihan Middle School in Marshalltown made last minute preparations. Dressed in matching shirts, "Ancient Awesomeness" prepared to wow judges in support of their bid to advance to the finals.
Thanks to the dedication of the volunteers, the event ran smoothly. The energy and enthusiasm of the children was infectious. Thirty-seven teams of bright inquisitive children engaged in the technology and promise of the future, there were only winners at this event. No legos were left on the floor.