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Boro kids win big with Legos

Armed with magnets, models and mounds of Legos, middle and elementary school classes throughout Queens participated Sunday in a citywide robotics competition held at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in Manhattan, with some taking the No. 1 spot or top five honors.

“We feel amazing,” said 10-year-old Summer Thomas from the Cambria School of Excellence in Cambria Heights. Her group modeled a needle to inject nanobots into a brain of someone with learning disabilities which would seek out non-working synapses and create a jolt between neurons. “We think this could really help in our society.”

For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, a nonprofit created by inventor Dean Kamen to encourage young people to go into science, technology, engineering and math careers, organized the event, which has been held annually for the past 11 years. It took place over three days, but middle-school and younger students competed Sunday, the last day of competition.

Teams from 12 schools in Queens and a community club from Forest Hills took part in the competitions, which included the FIRST LEGO League Championship, which has middle-school and elementary-school teams create robots from Lego-brand construction blocks that complete basic tasks, and the Jr. FIRST LEGO League Exposition, which had elementary school teams build a potential solution to a real-world problem with Legos.

“It teaches not only about research and stuff, but also about teamwork and responsibility,” said Hunter Brik, a 12-year-old who completed with JHS 185 Edward Bleeker in Flushing.

Queens schools came on top in two awards categories, which were given to those competing in the FIRST LEGO League Championship. PS 128 from Middle Village’s team, The Cyborg Clan, came in first in the Teamwork category and MS 216 in Fresh Meadows earned the Team Spirit Award.

Another big winner was RoboMindTech from Fresh Meadows, whose teams took fifth place in Teamwork, fifth place in Robot Performance and third place in the Champion’s Award. The Forest Hills Robotics League also won fourth place in Research and fourth place in Robot Design. Edward Bleeker 185 won fifth place in Research. MS 67 from Little Neck won third place in Robot Performance and PS 94 from Little Neck won second place in Robot Design.

Jung Hur, 14, from MS 67, whose team made nanobots geared toward gathering and isolating the HIV virus in the human bloodstream, said the event prepared her for her future.

“I was planning to go into the medical field when I grow up, so this helped me understand what it’s all about,” she said.

The Jr. FIRST LEGO League Exposition did not involve prizes, but gave elementary school students the opportunity to showcase their Lego creations. Elizabeth Ngai, 6, of Forest Hills Robotics League’s Club Builders team, said she enjoyed making her group’s merry-go-round with Legos.

“You can build something and you can take it apart and build another thing,” Ngai said.

Other schools that participated in the event included IS 119Q from Glendale, the Renaissance School at IS 192 in St. Albans, PS 71 in Ridgewood, IS 49Q in Middle Village, and the Louis Armstrong School at IS 227Q in East Elmhurst.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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