Santa Barbara kids learn robotics and engineering using the linkable plastic bricks.

Courtesy Photo

Santa Barbara kids learn robotics and engineering using the linkable plastic bricks.

The First Lego League

S.B. Kids Learn Robotics and Engineering Using the Linkable Plastic Bricks

Legos have been popular on the global market for more than 60 years. Aside from inspiring theme parks and movies, the colorful linkable bricks have been used to teach robotics. The First Lego League (FLL) Kids, a competition for children aged nine to 14, occurs all over the world and attracts hundreds of thousands of young engineers.

Santa Barbara’s team “FLL & Beyond: 2 squared + 3” showed off their skills at a Partners in Education board meeting last Friday when they presented a lively skit about natural disasters to the educators. Comprised of students from La Colina Junior High School and Foothill Elementary School, the team came up with their name because they have two sets of twins.

Last December, 2 squared + 3 attended the FLL Los Angeles Regional Championship Tournament, a competition of nearly 1,000 students in which they won second place in December. To prepare for the competition, teammates Lance Brown, Scott Brown, Cami Chou, Chloe Chou, Mia Chou, Aaron Juan, and Albert Miao spent months researching earthquakes and then created a “robotic outfit” — a hero suit — to make first responders faster and stronger.

The team is made up of three girls and four boys, and coach Rip Chou, who has coached them for three years. He has noticed competitions typically are made up of about 40 percent of girls and 60 percent boys. (All-girl teams from Girl Scouts and Girls, Inc. also compete.) Mack Fixler, their mentor, works with the team once a week — teammates meet twice — calling the practice functional arts and crafts. He is in the process of launching his own system to teach kids engineering. “I am all for STEM education. I really like the elementary school [level]. It gets kids excited and makes them want to go to the next step into engineering.”

“We’ve had a lot of support from several organizations to get us started,” Chou said. The team plans to present at Raytheon later this month in honor of National Engineers Week. The group may also head to the theaters to see The Lego Movie soon, but Chou added that the kids would rather do something active than staring at a screen.

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