The For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology Lego League held its qualifier competition for teams on Saturday in the Weber State University ballrooms. The WSU qualifier is one of many around the state to qualify teams for the final c

ompetition, which takes place in three weeks.

The FIRST Lego League utilizes teamwork and innovation for children ages 9-14 as they research, design and build their robots. Teams have eight weeks to complete their robots before competition.

Each robot should carry out activities specific to a theme for the year. The 2012-13 theme is “senior support.” Senior support allows insight into what senior citizens experience financially, emotionally and physically. The robots perform actions on a premade course to help overcome these theoretical hardships.

“This is like play, and it is the hardest fun the (teams) can have,” said Rainie Ingram, a recruiter for the WSU College of Applied Science and Technology. “They are having fun, learning, being challenged, and problem-solving. At the same time, they are learning about technology, researching and presenting.”

The FIRST Lego League emphasizes science, technology, engineering and math. The program is designed to help develop life skills through practical applications while promoting career fields. David Ferro, dean of the College of Applied Science and Technology, said WSU has taken an interest in the FIRST Lego League due to the emphasis on engineering and design that goes into the robots.

“Children need this type of program to make science fun,” Ferro said. “The schools do not always teach the basics of research and design in a manner that children will understand without actually doing.”

The team setup brings elements like failure and critical thinking into the larger picture of success. According to Ferro, WSU sponsors teams to promote community outreach and understanding of similar programs available.

The community also plays a large role in the success of Utah’s FIRST Lego League program. Chad Corbitt, an engineer from Hill Air Force Base, said this is his third year volunteering with the FIRST Lego League. He said his favorite part about volunteering is working with the children.

“They get so excited when they get something to work right,” he said.

Corbitt also said the most important part of the competition is when the teams learn from failure in the first round, but correct their errors by the third round and come out victorious.

The teams are formed around the community through churches, schools and neighborhoods.

“I love FIRST Lego League because I get to do what I love — play with Legos and friends,” said Tyler Shaw, a member of the team Lion Byte of Lomond View Elementary.

Shaw said he wants to be an aerospace engineer when he grows up.

“(My) favorite part about science is how you get to be with your friends and have fun while learning,” said Robert Mendoza, another member of team Lion Byte.

The teams will go on to compete at the state championship at the University of Utah on Jan. 26.

The WSU College of Applied Science and Technology wants to promote the FIRST Lego League through community outreach. Interested parents and groups can contact Ingram for more information at 801-626-7785.

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