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Cortland/Ithaca

Lego League growing in Tully school district

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Lego League growing in Tully school district
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A number of school districts in our region have Lego Leagues. It's a popular extracurricular activity, but one a lot of people aren't aware off. Monday, Tully's league presented their projects to the school board, some included robots. Our Iris St. Meran was there and tells us more about the projects and the goals for the program's future.

TULLY, N.Y. -- Legos are more than just a past time for children. In many school districts, like Tully they provide a valuable learning experience.

"It's fun and you get to work with a team," said FIRST Lego League participant Jared Swift.

Tully's PTO started the Leagues two years ago. The students, ages six through 14, participate. This year, their concept was "Senior Solutions." So they interviewed older adults, identified challenges and by making moving parts, developed a solution.

Six- and seven-year-old Oscar and Jack Breitzka were on a team that developed a way to help senior citizens when it's hot out.

"We built a fan that you can work all by itself," said Oscar Breitzka.

Tully Elementary School PTO FIRST Coordinator Karin Dykeman said, "You've not seen anything until you've seen how a six-year-old explains to you how a worm gear works, in technically correct language, maybe even over your own head. It's amazing what kids can do when they're given the opportunity to learn and delve into something really, really deeply."

For the first time the Lego League presented their projects before the school board to show what they have been working on and their plans to expand in the future.

"Some of us have a goal of expanding into the upper levels of FIRST to some of the high school aged programs,” Dykeman added. “So it's really about informing them."

For parents, it's about watching them enjoy learning, taking on a challenge and seeing it through.

"They built the entire thing by themselves. We had some agenda items that we talked about with the machinery, but once they idea was theirs, they had to run with it," said Steve Breitzka.

This continued commitment will help them go farther. And with each step and Lego piece they're laying down the foundation for a bright future.

Ninety children have participated in the program's two years. And coaches are volunteers from the PTO.

Many Lego Leagues are part of Time Warner Cable's "Connect a Million Minds" program, which aims to get kids interested in science, technology, engineering and math. To learn more, visit www.connectamillionminds.com.

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