Overton Elementary School raising money for Lego League

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 25, 2018

SALISBURY — Teachers at Overton Elementary School have been working throughout the school year to launch a Lego League club. But to pull it off, they’ll need a little help from the community.

Teacher Jessica Cash said the school needs to raise nearly $1,000 to purchase the required kits to compete in league competitions.

“It’s expensive, but the thing is that our students are not exposed to this at home,” Cash said.

Cash and co-club leader Jessica Tucker say the program has numerous benefits when it comes to teaching children how to code, program and collaborate.

The Lego League is a national activity and competition that requires teams of as many as 10 students to build an obstacle course and their own robot. The robot must then be programmed to complete the course and execute a series of tasks. While the robot and the course come in a standard kit, students have the freedom to dream up their own solutions.

“They’re given a real-world problem and they have to say, ‘OK, what are ways we can solve this problem?’” Tucker said.

The course teaches some valuable life lessons, as well.

“You can’t get frustrated and give up on this. You have to keep going,” Cash said.

According to Tucker, coding and programming teach students to accept failure with grace and to tweak, correct or try something new until they find a solution.

“It really just helps them be more open-minded, be more careful, be more mindful of what they’re doing,” Cash said.

It’s very different from any other project the students would encounter. Most coding activities that students learn in school take place behind a screen. But the Lego League would allow students to code, work with their hands and see their programs acted out in the real world.

“That would create something new for the kids here,” parent Amber Covington said.

Covington’s daughter participated in Lego League through a nonschool team and fell in love with it. While her daughter will be leaving Overton in May, Covington said she wants to do whatever she can to get the project off the ground.

“I’m just happy to see it here,” she said.

While the group raises money, Tucker and Cash have started an after-school Lego club to help students get used to concepts. They hope to acquire the kit and be ready to join the league in August.

Currently, the Lego club has about 25 student members in third through fifth grades.

Once the group is able to purchase the kit, it would also need funding to cover registration fees for teams. Tucker said registration is about $250 for each 10-member team of fourth- and fifth-graders and about $150 for each 10-member team of third-graders.

Those interested in donating should visit the club’s Donor’s Choose page at https://www.donorschoose.org/project/help-us-have-our-first-first-lego-leagu/2996657/.

Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264.