ANGLETON — Westside Elementary School came alive Saturday with the whirring and buzzing of robots as Angleton ISD hosted its Lego League Tournament.

The tournament consisted of fourth- through eighth-grade students participating in robotics programs in schools and homes across the county.

“The kids are provided a research challenge and they have to do research and come up with a solution,” said Angela Neal, advanced academics coordinator for Angleton ISD. “Then they have gameplay by programming a Lego Mindstorms robot to accomplish tasks for the game.”

There were more than 20 schools in attendance as well as teams of homeschooled children.

“The competition has been a lot of fun and the kids have worked really hard,” said Connie Medley, a teacher at Leon Sablatura Middle School. “It amazes me every time they’re doing things how much they absorb. It’s incredible.”

Katy Medina and Cecilia Teater are sponsors for the Westside Elementary Robotics Club and they wanted to bring the competition to the area.

“When I signed up I didn’t know how exciting it would be,” Medina said. “I don’t really teach the kids robotics, I show them the path and they do everything on their own.”

There were more than 100 volunteers as well as 30 judges from Dow.

“A lot of people in the community have held fundraisers and have helped us in general,” Medina said. “It was a community effort.”

The kids do their own research and come up with original ideas Medina said.

“It can be very complicated to program a robot but they take baby steps until they have everything together,” Medina said. “The most important skill they learn is how to figure things out. It’s been said that most of the jobs in the future aren’t created yet, so our kids need that skill.”

A core value of the robotics program followed by the schools, called FIRST Lego League, is for kids to learn cooperation with their teammates.

“(Lego League) wants to promote gracious professionalism, which is promoting professionalism within the organization,” Neal said. “They learn these skills so they are more ready to enter the workforce.”

The kids have to work together to accomplish the tasks, so teamwork is very important, Neal said.

“The skills that they are using to be creative and problem solve will be skills that they will carry with them forever,” Neal said.

Although the robotics challenge was a test of physical skills, the participating children were tested mentally as well.

“We had to really work hard and make sure everything we did was going to go into this mission,” fourth-grader Khloe Teater said, who is part of Westside Elementary’s Metal Brains robotics club. “One of the challenges was making sure we get along together and making sure all our ideas were the same.”

The program is hosted after school, requiring the kids to put in extracurricular time.

“We were staying till 5 p.m. every day of the week on school days, including Friday,” Teater said.

Addison Howell is a reporter for The Facts. Contact her at 979-237-0149.

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