Few sixth graders can say they've tamed a challenge handed down by NASA,
but that's exactly what a group of Hellgate students did.
They're champions in the First LEGO League.
"I think it really gives them a glimpse of what could be possible as they get older,"says coach and Hellgate third grade teacher Dean Perkins. "LEGO partnered with NASA to create these engineers, future engineers, future scientists to get them excited about the field, and move forward with it."
And like the Apollo space program, it's worked.
"When i get older, I kinda want to be an engineer, so yes, I kinda of like this," says 6th grader Kellen Moore.
His teammate Ben Tai-Brownlee agrees. "I think science is pretty cool. and i like programming the robot, so I'll probably get into science or technology or something,"says Ben.
LEGOS and robots. These students use one to build the other to complete missions, designed to help them think critically. This year's competition challenged them to fins a way to aid America's aging population. The kids did and are quite pleased with the result.
"We were really happy. Got 515 points. In our practice we hadn't even gotten in the 500's so 515 was really good,"says Sierra Tai-Brownlee, Ben's teammate and sister.
Perkins says the program also teaches the value of hard work and dedication. His students often took the project home on weekends.
"I think that's why a lot of them had the success they did. they put in extra hours, and extra time as a group,"says Perkins. "They probably faced a 95% failure rate when their robot is coming out to perform a mission, and it's a lot of problem solving then, to get it to work. Their level of perseverance is really tremendous."
The Hellgate Elementary Robotics Club took home five trophies from the 48 team competition in Bozeman this year, including first place for both Robot Performance and Research.