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First Lego League tournament athletics for the mind

'It was about a three-month challenge with three different parts. They’re having fun and they don’t even know it' volunteer judge Bryan Kelso

It was a big weekend for 16 teams competing in the First Lego League (FLL) grand tournament, the fifth tournament held in North Bay.

Teams came from across the province, including Toronto, Peterborough, Sturgeon Falls, Powassan as well as several from North Bay

Each team is made up of six to 10 elementary school students.  

This year’s team challenge was City Shaper.

The competition has been described as athletics for the mind.  

One of the volunteer judges Bryan Kelso explained that the teams spent months preparing for this one day.

“It was about a three-month challenge with three different parts. There is the robot where they build a Lego robot and they program it to complete missions and score as many points as possible. There is a project where they actually take a real-world problem and try to find a solution, talk to professionals, and research it. And there are also core values which are team building, gracious professionalism and a whole bunch of other values that kids learn. At the same time, they’re having fun and they don’t even know it,” said Kelso.

During the awards ceremony, students who are aging out were presented with certificates for their dedication to their team and FLL.

Ella Oschefski will be in grade 9 next year, so she will no longer be eligible to compete in FLL, although she is planning to join the high school team.

“I learned a lot about teamwork and how it is not just a team, it is also a family. I learned that it is important to work together even if you don’t succeed, just try again.”

Kelso is hoping the older competitors will move on to the next level.

“They can move on, to hopefully, the high school group which is team 1305 which I also mentor for and this helps train them not only to be a member of 1305, but also makes them a better community member, a better team member, a better kid at home, a better kid in class.”

Out of this competition, two teams qualify for the provincial championship.

“FLL is a lot different because not every team gets an award. Every student here deserves an award, but only the best teams get awards. Out of the five or six teams that do get awards, the top two qualify for provincials in Durham. If they win there, then they get to the Worlds."