Elementary students build, program Lego robots for competition

- In a McNeal Elementary School classroom in Manatee County, some young students are working on a project that would intimidate many adults. 

"We are programming the EV3 - like a mine storming robots," student Michael Rixon explained.

That should be the talk of a college student, but Michael Rixon and most of his classmates are in the fifth grade. Some of them are even younger, but their age doesn't stop them from building and programming robots.

"Not many kids have the chance to be doing this and it brings out the creative side of kids," said Daniela Coughran.

This is the first Lego League team for McNeal Elementary. It is a league of innovators that researchers real world problems like recycling.

The goal is to come up with a solution by using Legos and inventing a robot. Students rely on their math, technology and science skills.

"It is nerve wrecking and stressful, but fun at the same time," said Rixon.

This elementary group is going up against middle school students in their first Lego League competition.

"It is pretty cool because it's very challenging to get the programs and once we complete it it is amazing," said Darcey Bullas.

For their teachers, it is amazing to watch them work.

"We are so nervous and we are like 'oh my goodness, are they going to do all right?' - and they just take it in stride, like it's no big deal, like they do this everyday," said teacher Kathy Kimes.

Students spend hours before and after class, coming up with their solutions and getting ready for their next competition. It is not an easy task.

"It is daunting, but these students have picked it up like second nature. They don't hold back. They jump right in and whatever mission they decide to take on they do it," said Kimes.

They all say they love it.

"I would just say believe in yourself," said Rixon. 

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