Salvation Army offers LEGO League

Published 9:21 am Monday, August 17, 2015

A team of 12 children ages 8 to 14 meet every week to work on something that most of them only dreamed of working with.

They’re a part of The Salvation Army’s LEGO League team.

LEGO League Coach Jed Eberly, a microbiologist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said local teams are organized to compete in robotics competitions through the LEGO League. Eberly is in his second season of working with the LEGO League.

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“They’re LEGO robots,” he said. “Every year there’s a new challenge that comes out, and they need to build a LEGO robot using the kit provided. There’s also a specific field kit the organization has designed.”

Eberly said there are various challenges set up that the children must navigate with their robot.

“They get so many points in the competition for each challenge that they complete,” he said. “There are other aspects to the competition as well, including a problem statement, teamwork and how they interact with other teams. There are a lot of different aspects to the competition.”

A number of different schools and homeschool organizations in the community have teams also, Eberly said.

“What I saw here was a real opportunity to be able to work with some of the kids that didn’t have the opportunity,” he said. “I was doing a computer class here with the kids, and I found out about the LEGO League and decided to try it out here.”

Eberly said he’s been amazed by the interest generated.

“The primary reason we do this is to encourage STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education,” he said. “Especially in this community where there’s probably not a lot of interest until you get kids involved in something like this. We’re able to provide that safe after-school environment for them where they can learn.”

The team will get the official challenge in two weeks, and a qualifying competition will be held in November.

Eberly said the program could always use more volunteers.

“We have a big need for volunteers,” he said. “That’s our only limitation. The kids love it. More kids would join.”

For more information about volunteering, contact Salvation Army Captain Srikant Bhatnagar at