Trash Challenge

FLL is the middle-school league for FIRST Robotics, a worldwide science and technology initiative.

FLL is the middle-school league for FIRST Robotics, a worldwide science and technology initiative.

Sometimes trash talk is a good thing, if it leads to a cleaner planet. Toy engineers at the LEGO company helped design the innovative TRASH TREK Challenge, for instance — and it’s coming to Blue Ridge Community College this month. The November 14 event is an official FIRST LEGO League regional qualifier tournament.

FLL is the middle-school league for FIRST Robotics, a worldwide science and technology initiative. The game hosted at the college is not the first such competition, though — FIRST is an acronym: For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.

Mike Murphy, lead mentor for the Henderson County High School Robotics FIRST Team 1225, is this year’s event organizer. He explains that student teams use LEGO creations to solve real ecological problems faced by leading scientists and engineers. Nearly a quarter of a million students, age nine to 16, from more than 80 nations, play Trash Trek.

For example, they sort color-coded LEGOS that represent trash, to symbolize the way various recyclables should wind up in the correct recycling bins. Points are also scored by using LEGO blocks that represent methane to power trash trucks or power stations. Teams can also advance by reducing the steps in processing and recycling trash, or by demolishing LEGO buildings while properly disposing of the various construction materials.

Steps that increase rather than shrink the carbon footprint, however, can result in a steep deduction of points.

The public is invited to watch the kids compete, and MOJO BBQ will be on site to provide lunch. Member of Murphy’s high school Team 1225 will also be on hand, as referees and volunteers.

Murphy is proud of the team he coaches, which calls itself “The Gorillas” — and for good reason.

“We have students from all of the [Henderson County] high schools,” he says, “who meet year-round. They have put in thousands of volunteer hours.”

They also happen to be the 2015 North Carolina Regional Champions; won this year’s Engineering Excellence Award; and competed in the World Championships in St. Louis, MO.
Nowhere to build but up.

The FIRST LEGO League TRASH TREK Challenge regional qualifying event happens Saturday, November 14, at 9am at the Blue Ridge Community College Conference Hall, in the Technology, Education and Development Center building. (Look for the green bus parked in the tournament area.) 180 West Campus Drive, Flat Rock. For more information, call 828-329-6332. www.firstlegoleague.org/challenge/2015trashtrek.

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