Learn about LEGO and Tech Challenge competitions during demonstrations Sept. 12 at Isanti County Fairgrounds

LEGOSs? Yes, LEGOs. The Danish-invented system of interlocking plastic blocks used by generations of children is the basis for the FIRST® LEGO League (FLL), a national science and technology organization for youth aged 9 to 14. The FLL competition involves designing, building and programming a robot using LEGOs, researching solutions to local, real-life problems and learning to work as a team.

A participant in the FIRST® LEGO League, a national science and technology organization for youth aged 9 to 14.
A participant in the FIRST® LEGO League, a national science and technology organization for youth aged 9 to 14. Photos provided by usfamily.org

FIRST®, which stands for For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, sponsors annual competitions for students from kindergarten through high school.  The stated goal is for teams to apply math and science concepts to real-world problems. While solving the challenge, teams also tackle how to research a problem, now to work as a team, how to make formal presentations, and other related topics.

National FLL organizers come up with a new theme each year and devise theme-related challenges. Teams of youth create solutions, advised by adults. The intent is that youth come up with their own solutions to the challenge.

If you child needs a greater challenge than FLL, there is FIRST® Technical Challenge (FTC). FTC is a robotics competition for students in grades 7-12 based on a sports model. Teams are responsible for designing, building and programming their robots using a kit of parts to compete as alliances against other teams. Teams advance from local qualifying tournaments to state championship tournaments, before advancing to the World Championship Tournament, held each year in St. Louis.

Is FTC a robotics program? Yes, but it is so much more.  It is a community focused on building a better world for tomorrow by engaging youth in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).

A participant in the FIRST® Technical Challenge, a robotics competition for students in grades 7-12 based on a sports model.
A participant in the FIRST® Technical Challenge, a robotics competition for students in grades 7-12 based on a sports model.

FTC is about teaching youth the value of hard work, innovation and creativity. It goes beyond competition by teaching teenagers the importance of working together, sharing ideas and treating each other with respect and dignity.

If you are interested in either of these programs, have questions or would like to help, come to the demo and information night hosted by the Isanti County 4-H at the Isanti County Fairgrounds in the 4-H Exhibit Hall at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 12.

The 4-H Exhibit Hall is East side of the fairgrounds right across from the Kennel Club Shelter. You may also call the Isanti County Extension Office at 763-689-1810 for more information.