HAMMOND │ Students from 13 Hammond elementary and middle schools Saturday worked to overcome problems people face during a natural disaster.
The event was part of a First Lego League tournament hosted by the School City of Hammond at the Hammond Area Career Center. The tournament was preparation for the Indiana University Northwest qualifying tournament Nov. 24, followed by the state championship in December.
This is the 14th year the School City of Hammond has participated in the First Lego League.
This year’s theme, Nature’s Fury, had kids develop a Lego robot to solve or improve problems in natural disasters. In addition to the robotic table competition, components of the tournament include students creating an inventive project that would assist a community during a natural disaster.
Lego robotics coordinator Raymond Liskey said kids learn to be gracious professionals, treat people nicely, help share ideas and learn from each other.
"What we learn is more important than what we win," he said.
“Kids in this program will hopefully generate an interest in math or science and go on to some technical careers,” he said.
Abraham Santos, a seventh-grader at Clark Middle School, said he enjoyed the competition because he wants to be an architect.
His teammate, sixth-grader Jessica Osborne, said she stayed after school almost every day working on the design of the Lego robot.
“This teaches other kids that you can always try something new,” she said.
Jefferson Elementary School fifth-grader Joseph Shea enjoyed working with his fellow students.
“Sometimes, if we don’t even win, we still have fun working as a team and doing problem solving,” he said. “I like robotics because it’s an after-school thing where you can get your head in the game and learn how stuff can work.”
Lincoln Elementary School Principal Ryan Eckart is a former coach in the tournament and a current judge. The program is empowering because the students take so much ownership of the project, he said.
“They’re really driving the whole competition, which is the best part about it,” he said.
About 50 teams compete in the state competition each year, and those spots are split among the various regional qualifying tournaments throughout Indiana.
The IUN tournament sent five teams to the state competition in 2012 and eight teams in 2011. Hammond had seven of those teams in 2011 and four of those teams in 2012.