A team of local children are set to represent Canada on the international stage using colourful interlocking plastic bricks and an accompanying array of gears, minifigures and various other parts.
The group, called Lego Da Vinci robotics team, uses Lego pieces to create a robotic device to complete various tasks. It all began when Zachary Cheung took a trip and witnessed first-hand the popular competition in action.
“My family went to a competition in Germany as visitors. After watching them compete, we wanted to start our own team,” Cheung said. “The next year, we made the team and came first in our regional competition and got the rising star award at provincials.”
This year, the team repeated at the Regional competition and finished fifth at provincials, qualifying them for the FIRST LEGO League (FLL) International Festival held in Brazil.
The robotics program for 9 to 14 year olds, looks to get children excited about science and technology, while teaching them valuable employment and life skills. Teams, composed of up to ten children with at least one adult coach, can also be associated with a pre-existing club or organization, homeschooled, or just be a group of friends who wish to do something awesome.
Teams in competition gather together to compete in 32 different missions. The robot, which has five different attachments, earn points for completion in each category.
Each member of the team plays a vital role in creating a winning product. The team – Scott Hooper, Natasha Wells, Kristen Wells, Jacob Cheung, Connor Jackson and Jeb Dayaram – bring a personalized approach to creating a single robot to compete with.
“The part I love about it is the programing and working on the computer,” Hooper says. “We have others who specialize in the building of the project, so there are many different areas to work on during the build.”
The Lego Da Vinci’s robotic team are the only representatives from Canada attending the tournament in September. Despite the potential challengers from across the globe, the biggest battle has been fundraising.
Flying to Brazil isn’t cheap. With hotel expenses among a variety of other costs, they are relying on community support to make their dreams come true.
“It’s tricky to do a fundraiser in a small town,” Hooper says. “But people are becoming more aware on what we are doing and how much it means to us to represent our country in such a unique event so the support has slowly picked up.”
Lego Da Vinci robotics team are accepting donations for the tournament. Those interested in helping the boys and girls head to Brazil can contact Debbie Hoffele at [email protected]