Two teams -- a fourth grade team from Robbinsdale Spanish Immersion (RSI), and a middle school team from Plymouth Middle School (PMS) -- recently earned recognition at the virtual state First Lego League tournament.
The fourth grade team of Mattias Weidner, Tyler Hassis, Charlie Knudson and Xavier Emerson, dubbed The Winning Guinea Pigs, from RSI, earned two first-place awards: one for a top score in robot performance and one for top robot design.
Meanwhile, the middle school team of PMS students Soren Weidner, Tyler Knudson and Anders Hassis, who called themselves LEGO Lag, won the Rising All-Star Award, which recognizes their future potential.
“This trio had a solid robot design and did a great job working together to solve any problems that came their way. Their teamwork is sure to bring them success in the future,” according to the award entry.
Britta Weidner, Mattias and Soren’s mother, who is also an education assistant at PMS, said she and her husband helped coach the two student-teams knowing this year would be difficult and different due to the pandemic and distance learning.
“As a mom, I was really proud they all persevered even during a challenging year,” she said of the teams.”Really, we were grateful that we had a chance to participate.”
For the fourth grade team, it was their first time competing in Lego league, so Britta said it was more impressive students accomplished as much as they did. The sixth grade team had previously competed.
First Lego League has a number of different components, including a lengthy season that starts in the fall and culminates with a February tournament. But it’s more than just a competition where students create robots, equip them with Lego tools and then program them. Bitta said there’s a research component as well, and this year, the fourth-graders researched ways for those who are deaf and hard of hearing to be more engaged in athletics. And as part of their work, they interviewed Gov. Tim Walz’s American Sign Language interpreter Nic Zapko.
“That was a really neat experience for the kids,” Britta said.