Knox teams use LEGO robotics to solve local problems

The multi-color blocks that generations have used to build structures and express their creativity during childhood are coming to life in the form of robotic problem solvers in Knox County classrooms.


Knox’s First Robotics Lego League is preparing for its second annual competition by turning Lego pieces and gears into a hands on teamwork and problem solving lesson.

Students at Knox County Middle and Lynn Camp Middle have been working hard after-school preparing for the competition that will be held on November 23 in Hazard. In doing so, they are reaching out to the community to demonstrate the core values of First Robotics, which focus on student development and cooperation.

“This competition has really challenged us to come together as a team and not focus on our own agendas,” says Cassidy West, an eighth grade student.

Each student has a different task to complete which keeps them engaged in the experience, with many of them staying after school to complete the project.

“Once you learn the logistics of the competition, its fun” says Anna Beth Callihan, an eighth grade student.

West, Callihan, and other students of the Knox Middle team have learned that the competition is not all about winning. The competition demands that they learn how to work together as a team. Although building the robot is fun, the main goal is to reach out to others in the school and community to convey their solution to the problem. The project requires teamwork, cooperation, individual skills, and professionalism in order to compete.

A key part of the competition is requiring students to research and develop a solution to a natural disaster that affects their immediate community. After doing research and developing a solution to the problem, the next challenge is to present the solution to various members of the community that could have an invested interest in their idea.

Students from Knox Middle researched the problem of flooding in rural Barbourville and developed a solution to help alleviate the problems that it can cause. After this, they set up a meeting with Josh Callihan from Barbourville Utilities to present their solution.

After winning local approval, the projects created by Knox Middle and Lynn Camp Middle will be put to the test as they compete against other schools’ projects from eastern and southeastern Kentucky.