Robots, local students take center stage at FIRST LEGO League tournament

CAROLINA FOREST, SC (WBTW) – More than 35 local elementary and middle school teams will battle it out this weekend at the FIRST LEGO League Horry Qualifier.

The dozens of students are part of a worldwide league that challenges children with real-world science and technology issues. The catch: They have to do it with robots made out of Legos.

“It makes you think past the limits and makes you explore something you couldn’t do,” sixth grader Olivia Nelson said.

Nelson is one of several teams at Ten Oaks Middle School, working tirelessly to perfect their robots for this weekend’s competition. Teams like Nelson’s were tasked this season with programming and building a robot that can complete missions focused on hydrodynamics.

“You have to have good engineering skills, a good stabilization for building the robot and making sure it will not break on your robot board,” eighth grader Andrew Vaughan said.

The missions – including removal of a broken water pipe, filtering water and moving sludge – are played out on an obstacle course.

“The robots go around the table with different attachments that we have put on, and they drop stuff, pick stuff up and they move things around,” Nelson added.

Coach and Mentor Brandy Incorvia says the experience helps motivate students to consider futures in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“This gets them energized and see they can actually solve problems at their young age. We have had First Lego teams that have patented their ideas, gone on to Shark Tank. So, it really gives them inspiration for their own lives,” Incorvia said.

Officials estimate more than 235,000 children will compete in this year’s FIRST LEGO League Challenge around the world. Approximately 33,000 teams from 90 different countries will take part in qualifying and championship tournaments.

Teams in Horry County and Georgetown County will compete in the FIRST LEGO League Horry Qualifier at Ten Oaks Middle School this weekend. The top 30% of competing teams will advance to the state tournament, scheduled for February 10, 2018 at Waccamaw High School. The Horry Qualifier is sponsored this year by Santee Cooper.

For more information about starting a team or volunteering, visit or e-mail


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