A judge observes the entry of the PRES Young Warriors team as they prepare for Saturday tournament.
A judge observes the entry of the PRES Young Warriors team as they prepare for Saturday tournament.
Teams solve real-world problems through robot design and research at the 17th annual Choctaw Tribal Schools FIRST LEGOâ  League Tournament this Saturday.

More than 100 students from the Choctaw Tribal Schools have been tasked with the challenge and excitement of designing and building an original robot in the FIRST LEGOâ League program (www.firstlegoleague.org) at the Pearl River Elementary School gymnasium. It starts at 9 a.m.

Eight weeks of research and design will culminate in the tournament where teams of children and mentors will demonstrate their problem-solving skills, creative thinking, teamwork, competitive play, sportsmanship and sense of community. This action-packed event is free and open to the public.

A champion will be crowned. This team will advance to the state competition. Also, prizes will be given for robot design, project presentation, robot performance and core values.

In this year’s challenge, “INTO ORBIT”, teams will explore what it takes to live on the space station or travel to another planet.

The competition is judged in five areas: research and presentation; robot performance; technical mechanics of the robot’s construction; teamwork; and gracious professionalism. The highest honor will go to the team that best exemplifies the spirit and values of the program.

Founded by inventor Dean Kamen, FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) was created to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology. FIRST LEGOâ League is an international program for 9-to-14 year-old children created in a partnership between FIRST and the LEGO Company in 1998.

Each September, FIRST LEGOâ League announces the annual Challenge to teams, which engages them in authentic scientific research and hands-on robotics design. Using LEGO MINDSTORMSä technologies and LEGO bricks, children work alongside adult mentors to design, build and program robots to solve real-world challenges.

“I am always amazed at the solutions that the children come up with,” said Tracey Hartness. “It is for students in the third grade through the eighth grade. This year, they will be addressing some of the issues people would face while being in outer space for an extended time.”

After eight intense weeks, the competition season culminates at high-energy, sports-like tournaments.

Since it’s beginning, FIRST has had a positive impact on students and academic communities. “We need to show kids that it’s more fun to design and create a video game than it is to play one,” said Dean Kamen, FIRST Founder.