When some people think of robots, they think of science fiction franchises like The Terminator, or Star Wars. Those people may not realize that there is a robotics team right in their own backyard.

The fifth and sixth Grade students that make up the Red Devil Lego League at Pickering High School have made their mark at a recent competition, and are headed to the state competition in New Orleans. 

The team won First Place in the Project Innovation category. For their project, they designed a solution involving robotics to their school’s water drainage issues.

Kale Klitzkie expressed that he is excited to go to New Orleans. 

“It makes me so excited,” said Klitzkie. “We are going down there to do our best, and be nice to people”.

Klitzie noted that he and his fellow teammates put in a lot of hard work on their project and it was nice to be recognized at the state level. 

Blake Brown had an interesting story on why he joined Lego League.

 “I got into Lego League because I am into robotics,” Brown said.  “When I first joined I thought that robots were going to take over the world. So I thought it’d be cool to take over the world.” 

Brown expressed he likes the fact that during competitions they get to meet new people. He noted that it was through lots of trial and error that they were able to succeed. Brown gave a special shoutout to his best friend Joshua to conclude the interview.

Joshua Wilhelm told the Leesville Daily Leader that it was his love of Legos that initially drew him to join Lego League. However, he has learned more than he ever thought he would in the beginning.

“I joined at first because I like Legos,” said Wilhelm. “Then I learned that it was about robots and I’ve always wanted to learn how to program and code.”

Wilhelm noted that the team puts in a lot of hard work, but it’s also fun and very rewarding.

“I’d say we work pretty hard, and I get nervous sometimes at competitions,” he said. “But it’s a lot of fun.” 
Wilhelm was grateful to his teammates and everyone that has supported the Red Devil Lego League from the beginning. He thanked them in a special shout out.

“Shout out to my friend Blake and our whole team,” Wilhelm said, “I’d also like to give a shoutout to all of our sponsors and supporters.”

Kaden Davis stated that he joined the team because he wanted to learn more about robotics and engineering.

“I wanted to join a club, and I heard that it was all about robotics and engineering so that just made me want to join more,” said Davis.  

He also expressed how through trial and error the team overcame hardship  “Sometimes it was hard, but it got easier as we learned more,” Davis said. “I hope we’re going to win in New Orleans.”

Yazmin Tricoche spoke about how she got to be a part of the Red Devil Lego League during club day at school. 

“On club day I saw Lego League, and I didn’t know what is about,” she said. “Mr. Kampfer told me that it was about programming and I wanted to learn more.” 

Tricoche spoke about what she and the team went through during the competition which included programming challenges, their project posters and a skit. 

“During the competition, I got nervous when the robot wasn’t doing as well at the beginning. I think we did really well with the skit.” 

Although she said she was nervous, Tricoche expressed that she was very happy to be headed to the state competition next month. She said: “I feel really happy and kinda nervous because it’s at the state level.” 

The two faculty sponsors of the team are Jacob Kampfer and Amber Burk. They both stated how proud of the kids they are, and both want more people to know the great things that they have learned and accomplished.

Kampfer explained what Lego League is and what the students had to do at this year’s competition. 

“Lego League is a STEM program where students have to build an autonomous robot that moves on its own with no remotes at all,” Kampfer said. “Along with building and programming the students also have to solve a real-world problem.”

Kampfer has been the sponsor for Lego League for six years and stated it has been a learning experience for him as well. 

“The amazing thing about this is that these kids just started learning about this stuff back in September,” Kampfer said. “They are competing with schools that have started much earlier, and have more experience.”

Burk noted that Pickering Elementary is unique in what it offers the students, and she wanted to emphasize that they were doing much more than “playing with Legos.”

She said: “Pickering Elementary has one of the few STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) programs in our parish. When they first hear about Lego League some people think that the kids are just playing with Legos, but this is basically an engineering competition for kids.”

The Red Devil Lego League will be heading down to New Orleans on January 18 for the FIRST Lego League State Competition. For more information on Lego League log on to www.firstlegoleague.org.