Utah First Lego League holds qualifying tournament

Team Version 2.0, of Spanish Fork, watch nervously as their robot attempts to complete a set of preprogrammed tasks during the Utah First Lego League qualifying tournament at Thanksgiving Point in Lehi on Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014. SPENSER HEAPS/Daily Herald

The Utah First Lego League held one of 14 qualifying tournaments at Thanksgiving Point in Lehi on Saturday, pitting teams of children and their Lego robots against each other in a head-to-head competition. While only four of the 25 teams competing would advance to the State Championship, everyone involved seemed to be having a great time.

Teams of kids ages 9 through 14 developed projects and buillt and programmed Lego robots to complete a set of tasks based on this year's theme -- nature's fury. On Saturday, judges viewed the team projects, which addressed different challenges faced by people affected by natural disasters. After that, the real fun began as teams pitted their Lego robots against each other to see whose could complete a set of tasks fastest and most efficiently.

"They just get to create and build and have fun," said Marilyn Lee, public events coordinator for Thanksgiving Point. "It's pretty crazy but it's fantastic to watch the teams," she said of the chaos surrounding the game tables. 

Todd Ahlstrom, of Lehi, one of the coaches for team Grid Skippers, said he thinks the kids get a lot out of the experience.

"They get the ability to present things, to speak publicly, to express their ideas. They also learn how to operate under pressure, which is a big challenge for them because it makes them really nervous," Ahlstrom said. "Then hopefully they learn something about engineering, building and programming robots."

Ahlstrom added that the kids all have a lot of fun throughout the process.

"They said they had so much fun that they aged the coaches," he laughed.

See what people are talking about at The Community Table!