Hundreds of Tompkins County Students Show Off Skills at LEGO Expo

ITHACA, N.Y. -- Over 20 teams of students from across Tompkins County participated in the 11th annual "Junior FIRST Lego League Expo" on Saturday.

This year's theme was Creature Craze, focusing on the importance of animals evolving in different ecosystems.

"It's the idea of learning about creatures and animals and we, as humans, interact with them and some of the problems that can occur with that," said Event Organizer Daniel Woodie.

Students worked in teams and were given a specific challenge topic that they had to research while building their Lego models.

"They were challenged to learn about an animal that shares the environment with a bee, and then build a Lego model about the animal and the bee," said Woodie.

Each model had one motorized element, which in most cases happened to be a bee.

"My favorite part is the bee," said student Jack Bonassar. "Because it actually moves and it can fly in reverse."

Organizers say the program was created to make science and engineering enjoyable for kids.

"It shows kids that science and engineering doesn't have to be intimidating and that solving problems can be really fun," said Woodie. "To show kids that inventing a video game can be more fun than playing it."

And the elementary students weren't the only ones having the fun. There were also high school students helping out and showing off examples of what they've done.

"The kids love it. It's great. We've had so many kids come up they just want to control it. They want to see it, they want to see it wave its arms around and spin in circles," said high school student Galen Marteal.

The event closed out with an awards ceremony, where each student was given a medal for their hard work.

"It was pretty fun to work with my friends, especially considering we got great reviews from the judges," said Bonassar said.

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