FLL summer activities planned for June and July


For The Sun-Telegraph

Grace Payton,Gowraz Ghatananeni, Ty Grunig, Jonathan Spachek, Carter Ost and Grace Bowcut of the Cheybots 4-H robotics team crowd around First Lego League referee Rebecca Whitham as she reviews the scores earned by their robot during the first round of competition at the Sidney Regional Qualifying Tournament held at West Elementary in January.

This summer, the Cheyenne County 4-H will be expanding its First Lego League robotics program with activities for children and young adults from kindergarten all the way through 12th grade.

"It's for anybody who's interested in robotics and tech, and who want to play around with that sort of thing," Nebraska Extension Educator Cynthia Gill said. "They are learning to program and to code."

First Lego League challenges youth to design, build and program a robot using Lego Mindstorms technology, and then compete with other teams on a tabletop area to solve a specified problem.

"First Lego League targets fourth through eighth graders," Gill said. "It doesn't start until the fall, but we're trying to get some interest now so when the fall comes, we can hit the ground running."

On June 9 beginning at 6 p.m., the the program will offer interested children fun challenges and team building activities prior to team formation.

"It's more of a playtime, where they can come in, play with the robots and practice coding," Gill said. "Because during the season, they are so focused on getting the project done, we wanted to give them some opportunities to just enjoy it."

Gill said Sidney's First Lego League team has done well in the past, with two teams doing well in regional competition and one team winning a teamwork trophy at the Nebraska Robotics Expo in Ashland in late February.

"But we would like to expand the program and have more teams participate," she said. "It's a great program that teaches so many things, not just tech. It teaches teamwork and planning skills. It teaches all of the skills they need to be successful in the corporate world."

A second First Lego League meeting will be held on July 9 as well beginning at 6 p.m.

For children in kindergarten through third grade, a workshop will be held on Tuesday, June 14, that will introduce them to the program through the Junior First Lego League.

"And that's not programming robots, but learning to work with gears and learning to build Lego creations with moving parts," Gill said. "It's the very beginning."

Gill said the Junior First Lego League has been something they had been "playing around with," but this year will mark the start of a more formal program.

"So that they can do their presentation and compete at the same time as the big kids at the regional tournament in January," she said. "The competition isn't so fierce at the junior level, but it's teaching them the skills they need to compete as they get older."

For young adults in eighth through 12th grade, the Cheyenne County 4-H is forming a new FIRST Tech team, which will challenge is participants with an advanced robotics project.

"It's also part of Lego, but is an advanced team," Gill said. "It takes things a step further."

Gill said the FIRST Tech project involves the team building a larger robot from scratch that will compete on a much larger area.

"This is something we have not done before," she said. "We received a grant for the funding for a team, and we're looking for 12 to 15 kids who are interested in doing that."

The FIRST Tech team will meet on Wednesday from June 8 to July 6.

Gill said to participate in the First Lego League teams, children do not have to be a member of the county 4-H program.

"We would like for them to join 4-H, but they don't have to have previous 4-H experience to participate," she said.

The First Lego League summer activities will take place at the Light Memorial Presbyterian Church located at 1345 Linden St. in Sidney.

For more information or to RSVP, contact the Cheyenne County Extension Office at (308) 254-4455.


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