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Building blocks of the future

Published 9:15pm Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Legos are building blocks, literally and figuratively, for the imagination and development of young children. You can build virtually anything with Legos.

As a child I spent hours building houses, whole cities, vehicles and anything else I could think of. It was a great bonding time for me with my father — and my brother once he was old enough to play along. We worked together to build our creations, handed each other a needed block and used our imaginations.

I don’t remember there being anything cool like Lego teams when I was growing up. I would have signed up, I am sure. And I certainly didn’t create robots with my Legos.

Two Suffolk-based Lego robotics teams brought home trophies recently from a First Lego League competition in Newport News.

One team, THE Team 2.0, which was started last year for children in North Suffolk ages 11 to 14, won a first-place trophy in the Robot Design category and placed third overall in the competition hosted at Crittenden Middle School, according to one of the parents.

The team now advances to the regional contest at James Madison University on Dec. 7.

Mack Benn Jr. Elementary’s Amazing Marlins, also a second-year team, scored a first-place trophy in the Core Values category, according to one of the team’s coaches.

As well as designing Lego robotics and completing tasks on an obstacle course, the competition also included research and required team members to work together on a real-world problem.

This year’s challenge topic is nature’s fury, and THE Team 2.0 students contacted meteorologists at the National Weather Service office in Wakefield, as well as Jim Judkins, Suffolk’s emergency management coordinator, after selecting hurricanes as their topic.

The students created a short video, uploaded on YouTube, around the theme of “Get a Kit, Make a Plan, Stay Informed,” to encourage folks to plan for storms and remain safe when they hit.

The Marlins are working on a database concept that would allow folks to search for family and friends after a natural disaster.

I think this is a great concept and glad this is available to Suffolk students. I can only imagine how much students — and coaches — have gained from the experiences.

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