A 21-team tournament slated for Dublin Jerome High School Saturday, Jan. 12, could do more than determine who will go to state competition in the FIRST LEGO Robotics League.
Cindy Bryden, president of Dublin Robotics Boosters, is hoping the public will come watch the competition to satisfy their curiosity about the activity that is popular among Dublin elementary and middle school students.
This year, 190 Dublin students are involved in the FIRST LEGO League for elementary and middle school students.
"We've been averaging between 180 and 200 children for FIRST LEGO League," Bryden said. "This is the third year with about that many kids involved."
Catching the Jan. 12 contest can answer questions for both parents and students about what's expected when joining a team.
"I do get lots of questions on FIRST LEGO League," Bryden said.
"People can come to the tournament to see what it is so if next year they want to get involved, they know what they're getting into," she said, adding students are free to ask teams questions.
The opening ceremony is slated for 11:30 a.m. with robot play running from 12:45 to 4 p.m.
"We'll talk about FIRST and what it is," Bryden said of the opening ceremony.
"The Junior FIRST League Expo will be there and kids in grades two and three will get trophies at the opening ceremony ... you can find out what Junior FLL kids are doing," she said.
"The robot games start at 12:45. That's the exciting part."
The robots for the league are built with LEGOs, which Bryden said is the element that usually catches new members.
"It's the LEGOs, period," she said. "Kids see that and it's what you can get them excited about."
Teams build a robot with an NXT LEGO set, Bryden said.
"NXT is something anyone can do," she said. "They turn it into a competition with a mission and then they're hooked.
"Then there's the research paper, which is not as much fun, but after they get into it, they're super involved."
The Jan. 12 regional tournament can also serve as a time for potential coaches to get an idea about the program. Bryden, who has a background in graphic art, has coached for six years and said programming skills aren't required.
"I'm not a tech-savvy person. I use computers, I don't fix them," she said. "I'm not a programmer, but I've had very successful teams. You just need to be patient with kids and be able to do homework on your own because you know they'll ask questions."
Bryden's team, the Mindstorm Megabytes, will be one of 11 Dublin teams at the Jan. 12 competition. Seven teams will move to the state contest from there.
Dublin teams at the Jan. 12 tournament at Jerome High School include Inconceivable, Mindstorm Megabytes, BOSS BOTS and Lego Spiders from Sells Middle School; Insane Innovators from Davis Middle School; Lost in LEGO, Penguin Storm, the Aztecs and Creeperbots from Karrer Middle School; Batteries Not Included from Grizzell Middle School; and NeXT ImagiNeers from Indian Run Elementary.
For more information on the Dublin robotics program, look online at dublinroboticsboosters.org.