Sanford School hosted a regional Junior FIRST LEGO League (Jr.FLL) Expo Saturday, Dec. 17. Designed to build interest in science and engineering in children ages 6–9, the hands-on program was developed to capture young children's inherent curiosity and direct it toward discovering the possibilities of improving the world around them. The program features a real-world challenge, to be solved by research, critical thinking, and imagination. Guided by adult coaches, students work with LEGO elements and moving parts to build ideas and concepts and present them for review.
During the 2011 Snack Attack challenge, students were charged with mastering the science of safely preparing food. Fifteen teams, each comprised of approximately six children, represented five area schools, including North Star Elementary, Odyssey Charter School, Sanford, St. Anne’s Episcopal School, and Wilson Elementary School. Every team presented a model constructed of LEGO elements with a motorized moving part. In addition to building simple machines, each team created a Show-Me Poster to represent their Snack Attack findings. Educators and other professionals evaluated the models, and awards were presented to every team at the conclusion of the event.
Matthew Sutty, a Sanford second-grade student, said he learned that teamwork was important because it allowed his group to make a creation together, adding, “I really liked building stuff that I could draw from my imagination."
Students aren't the only ones who benefit from the program. Sanford parent Holly Kalish, one of the coaches of the Sanford Snack Academy team, said, “Junior FIRST LEGO League coaches are presented with a wonderful opportunity to work with a small group of children and encourage them to think creatively. Each child brings unique talents to the team and coaches assist the group brainstorming, researching a topic, and problem solving. It was wonderful to see the children react as they began to understand concepts and were able to translate this into a mechanical LEGO project. The true reward was seeing how proud and confident the children were as they presented their project to other schools and judges.”