Canadian Kids Prepare for Lego Competition

A group of kids training at Canada’s University of Prince Edward Island prepare for their first Lego engineering competition:

During the rare breaks of chatter the sound of clicking plastic and occasionally the whirr of an electric motor can be heard. The few adults in the room mostly stand back and watch.

“It’s fun to be able to make your LEGO actually move and not have to act it out,” [10-year old Salmon Muhammad] says, describing what he likes best about the day.

The eight young Islanders make up the competition team for the P.E.I. First LEGO League; they are split into two groups – programmers and builders. They are preparing their robot for a regional qualifier in Truro, N.S. – an Island first.

The group supervisor, assistant engineering professor Libby Osgood, got the idea while studying in Kenya:

While studying robotics at Halifax’s Dalhousie University, she had a project; it was homework that she had to take with her to Africa in order to complete. And it was the children there who sparked the initiative here.

“The Kenyan students were enthralled,” she recalls. “Their eyes were huge. They could not believe that is what a robot was. You could see they were satisfied that they were learning something.”

It was an experience she wanted to duplicate back home.

“I saw how engaged the students were and when I came back I saw a lack of similar resources here at such a critical age.”

After all, she says, not all children are interested in sports. That belief was good news for Salmon and the others.

“You can build what you want … and make it how you see it better. You can’t do that with everything.”

There’s a video of the kids’ engineering skills in action behind the link.

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