December 2, 2021

Lego club at library a chance for children to explore

Creating opportunities

Colin Spencer/staff reporter

Eli Donlick, 9, of Cortland, launches a robot Saturday during a FIRST Lego League club meeting at the Cortland Free Library.

The robot 9-year-old Eli Donlick helped program whizzed forward before knocking out a Lego man on a swingset and crashing into other structures during Saturday’s For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology Lego League club meeting at the Cortland Free Library.

Donlick and three other children worked on creating and programming robots with Lego Mindstorm kits and creating structures to complete challenges. The challenges included lifting platform pieces and removing supports for a structure without knocking over a base piece on top, similar to Jenga.

“I like that it has Legos and it has robots because I like both of those things,” Donlick said. “It’s nice because you get to learn a lot of new stuff” including programming robots.

The club, which meets every Saturday at the library, has children working to complete challenges from the FIRST Lego League, an international engineering competition for students in grades 4 to 8, according to its website.

“The real value is learning to work as a team,” said Donald Chu, the co-creator of the club with his wife, Diane Chu. “The first inclination of Lego is for kids to go off and work by themselves. But with the challenges, they need to work as a team.”

Colin Spencer/staff reporter

Diane Chu, left, works with Emily Tice to program a robot Saturday during a FIRST LEGO League club meeting at the Cortland Free Library.

The Chus started the club as an afterschool program in 2018 at the former Parker Elementary School to support the school, Donald Chu said.

After the school closed in June, the couple ran the club in the Burch Building at Suggett Park during the summer before moving to the library to allow for more children to participate, Donald Chu said.

The club participated in a competition in 2018 in Utica though weren’t able to this past year due to finding a new location after the elementary school closed and having a late start on building the robots and structures, Donald Chu said.

“If all goes well, we hope we can do some sort of exhibition at the library of what the children have accomplished,” Diane Chu said.