OSSINING, N.Y. – A group of Ossining students are using LEGOS and computers for more than just fun and games.
The group of middle school students known as Team STUBBY is using the building blocks and computer engineering to assist senior citizens and compete in Saturday’s FIRST LEGO League Competition in Elmsford. The FLL is an annual competition that introduces students aged 8 to 14 to science and technology skills using LEGOS to solve problems through research, engineering and building robots.
While the Ossining School District sponsors a team at AMD Middle School, a handful of Ossining parents helped create team STUBBY so that home schooled, private school and other public school students in Ossining also had a team. Coach Dan Slavin said he got involved after learning about the program last year and realized it would be a way to teach kids engineering skills using computers rather than video games or other electronic methods.
“The idea was to try to do something productive with computers rather than just playing games,” he said. “We pooled our resources and last year they advanced from the qualifying competition. I think they’re going to do very well but they seem to have a lot of fun with it too.”
Slavin said he believes the kids joining the program will be miles ahead of other students if they decide to go into engineering.
“I believe that programming is like a language and the sooner you learn a language the more successful your chances are of mastering it,” he said. “My first programming courses were in college so I think it’s terrific to get middle school students going and get them that much more experience at a younger age.”
AMD student Daniel Zhu, 12, said he joined the team last year to have more fun learning programming with his friends.
“We were all friends and we liked LEGOS and we heard about LEGO robotics and FLL and we thought it would be fun to try,” he said. “I think it’s a lot of fun to build the robots and see what kinds of things you can program them to do. We were already friends who already loved LEGOS and computers so we made a team to see what we could do and it’s been really fun.”