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Lafayette Lego Lovers make mark in international competition



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We wish to thank Ben Woo for sending in this photo of the Lafayette Lego Lovers with their Judge’s Award. It was won over the weekend in Manchester. Courtesy photo. (click for larger version)
December 05, 2012
FRANCONIA — A dedicated group of Lafayette sixth graders won an award last weekend as part of an international competition, the First Lego League. They provided another example of the inventiveness found in North Country kids.

The team, known as the Lafayette Lego Lovers, was charged with addressing the theme for this year's competition: Senior Solutions. They had to develop a project to assist senior citizens, then program Lego robots. The robots demonstrate ways seniors could get help with daily tasks.

The annual competition requires teams to work together. The central goal of the First Lego League is to develop team-focused students who will gain interest in science and technology careers.

Team advisor Ben Woo said that the competition creates "real world problems for kids to solve." "They are creating future engineers," Woo suggested. Woo said that about 150,000 kids around the world were part of this year's competition.

Lafayette had two teams in this year's competition. The Lafayette Lego Lovers won a champion's award at a qualifying round, then took a further prize last weekend.

Fifty teams participated in that state final round. The Lego Lovers won the Judge's Award for Connecting Seniors. The award was for the team's website, which is known as Adopt-A-Senior.

As part of the competition, the team created a five-minute skit to illustrate their website. Adopt-A-Senior allows area senior citizens to connect with students. The website is used to schedule a meeting between a senior citizen and a student who share an interest in a hobby, such as chess or gardening.

During development of their idea, the Lego Lovers visited Lafayette Center. The team met with residents Warren and Virginia Martin, who provided thoughts on ways to help senior citizens. "They were excited to see us," said team member Hannah Butterfield.

Woo said the team was very grateful for the Martin's time and insights.

Before the weekend's final competition, the team worked hard to practice their presentation and refine their robot work. Their enthusiastic commitment to helping each other was evident.

They have developed a lot of skills as part of their experience. Computer programming and website development were the means by which they expanded their horizons.

Woo said that many people helped the team. Littleton's Embroidery by Everything Personal created team t-shirts. Carole Bogat at the Lafayette Center also assisted the team, and continues to work with them on their outreach to seniors.

Parents and the school have provided further support, Woo said. Many parents, as well as Principal Gordon Johnk, were on hand over the weekend cheering on the team.

Thankful for the support of the community, the Lego Lovers aren't done yet. The team wants their effort to endure after the competition. This is certainly in line with their motto, "Helping the World, one senior at a time."

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