TRURO - For many, the word Lego sparks up memories of childhood construction in which brick upon brick is placed to create a brand new creation.
But for nine teams in the Chignecto Central area, Lego also means robot engineering, software development and teamwork.
These are the teams that are competing in the fifth annual Central Nova First Lego League competition to be held on Nov. 24 at the Truro Campus, Nova Scotia Community College.
So, what is First Lego League?
First Lego League (or FLL as techies like to call it) is an international competition created to get children excited about science and technology.
Teams made up of members between the ages of nine and 14 engineer and program robots built from specialized Lego kits called Mindstorms. The goal is to score as many points possible by having their robot fearlessly embark onto a play field to complete designated missions.
The preparation requires teams to exercise their research skills, problem solving, communication skills and teamwork in order to achieve the highest score possible.
In a nutshell, First Lego League is the quintessential varsity sport for children who are interested in science and technology.
This year's competition theme is ‘senior solutions' where the teams explore the topic of aging and how it may affect a person's ability to maintain his or her lifestyle - solving issues like getting around, keeping in touch, or staying fit.
Teams will research obstacles and then suggest ways to improve the quality of life for the seniors affected. Naturally, the Lego robot missions will all involve various aspects of this theme, which promises to make for a very interesting set of challenges for the teams to overcome.
A significant portion of the competition doesn't just involve the performance of a team's robot during the competition as there is great emphasis put on teamwork, professionalism, and overall attitude of the team throughout the competition day.
There is also a research component to the competition, which requires teams to go out into their community to research and explore topics related to the senior solutions theme. In the end, it is not just about the points, but the experience.
Of the nine teams competing at the Truro campus competition, a few will advance to compete at the provincial competition at Acadia University on Feb. 2, 2013.
Interest is building up more and more every year with new teams coming on board. All that's required is three to ten children (ages nine to 14), and at least one adult coach. Teams can be affiliated with Scouts/Girl Guides, boys and girls clubs, schools or just be a group of children interested in forming a team.
There is a registration fee, but there are loads of support and training provided by the First Lego League Committee at NSCC, Truro campus.
If you are interested in learning more, visit www.firstlegoleague.org. To learn more about the competition at Truro Campus, or to form a team to join next year's competition, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. And don't hesitate to come down to see the robotic rivalry unfold on Nov. 24. This is a spectator sport. The doors open at 1 p.m.
* Sean Morrow is an IT instructor at the Nova Scotia Community College, Truro Campus.