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Central site of Lego League Qualifier
Competition Saturday has disaster scenario
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Forsyth County News

Nature has unleashed its fury and it’s up to about 200 children to provide disaster relief to the demolished areas.

Some 30 teams of about six students each have been working since the school year began to build machines capable of aiding in disaster recovery.

While the machines are Lego-based and the actual disaster is just a scenario, the research and engineering the fifth- through eighth-graders are using for the FIRST Lego League Qualifier could one day be the future of relief efforts.

“A lot of our robot camps are centered around realistic themes,” said David Johnson, STEM Academy engineering teacher and robotics club adviser at Forsyth Central High School. “It’s all about disaster relief and recovery and the role that robots and drones will play as we move to the future.”

This is the second year Central has played host to the competition, the largest Lego League qualifier in the state. And it’s the seventh year a Forsyth school has done so.

The event, which is open to the public, is set for 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the school on Tribble Gap Road in Cumming.

According to Johnson, most of the county’s schools have at least one team participating in the event, which encourages students — particularly girls — to get involved in science.

“It helps them with skills like their application of math and science, problem solving and teamwork, and it gets them acclimated to the fun competitive field of robotics,” he said.

“The kids have to work as a team. They have to do problem solving and they have to be creative in their solutions. It takes every bit of the design and engineering process to make this happen.”

Johnson said he expects more than 700 parents and family members of the students to pack the school to watch the competition.

As important as the event is for the competitors, Johnson said it also is a learning opportunity for students from Central and other local high schools who serve as judges and referees, as well as helping with crowd control, cleanup and logisitics.

“They have to go through training. They have to understand the rules for the game each year,” he said. “… Just by being part of it, they get a taste and a picture of things that are going on in disaster recovery as well … There’s certainly an inherent component of knowledge that they gain.”