LEGOs become revolutionary building blocks of education

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WILLISTON, N.D. - LEGOS have been popular among kids and adults alike for decades and now they are finding their place in the classroom. Trinity Technicians talk about their LEGO league and the new revolutionary building blocks of education.

Who says learning can't be fun? Trinity Christian School has recently embraced STEM learning, where students use their imaginations to develop solutions to real-world challenges.

Director of Admissions and Student Advisor Sheri Moonen moved to the area six years ago and brought her involvement with STEM with her. She says that the LEGO missions had become very popular at her previous school and thought she would try it out here. Now in their second year, the Trinity Technicians are western North Dakota's first first LEGO League team.

"With these kiddos, you can really see the gears moving in their heads like when we are talking about a project or a mission. You can see them thinking in their heads that we need to do this or we need to do that or why don't we go this way. So, I've been really excited about that," said Moonen.

The group can have up to 10 members from grades four through eight, and students are challenged to design, build and program LEGO based robots to perform autonomous missions on a designated playing field. Moonen says with the popularity of LEGOS and this being the first league in the region, interest has been growing.

"I've gotten phone calls from homeschooling parents and parents from other schools that want to join our program and so we are looking at options for the future on how we can grow," said Moonen.

The group recently competed at a regional qualifying tournament at Minot State University that featured 13 other robotics teams. The Trinity Technicians placed fifth in their first outing and hope to improve for next year. In the meantime, they still get to enjoy their time together to be creative and have fun.

"I like being a part of it because I like LEGOS and I like robots," said Ryker Penner, fourth grader.

"It's really fun that we get to program, and that we get to build, and we get to do all that fun stuff, and make attachments for the program," said Mason Haugen, fourth grader.

"And we also have other things that we do that is kind of funny and stupid at the same time. The fourth graders, they've managed to learn how to record their voices to sing 'Baby Shark,' said Stephen Penner, sixth grader​.

The group meets every Thursday at 7 p.m. and Moonen says they hope to establish a high school team in the future if there is enough interest.