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Innovators Brick Build

More than 50 local students in kindergarten through high school participated in the first Innovators Brick Build Competition.

“It was a really fun project and all the students exhibited creativity, curiosity and collaboration,” said Kristen Kowalski, parent volunteer who helped with the competition. “We love building with Lego bricks!”  

articipants were able to build on their own or as a team and used their own Legos to build anything within their imagination. 

Entries included an operational car, various treehouses, a D-Day scene, and many aquatic-themed builds. 

Entries could have any theme, but they had to stay within a 24-inch by 24-inch base and be no higher than four feet tall.  

“You could run wild with your imagination and create whatever you wanted to,” said Kowalski, whose son and daughter participated through Immanuel Lutheran School.

Bob Thomson and one of his classes at Thunder Bay Junior High came up with the idea for a local competition, and the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary partnered with Alpena Starbase and the Alpena High School ROV Club to make it happen.

Lego builds were on display at the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center last week, and judging was held on Saturday. 

The ROV Club volunteered as judges and used a scoring rubric that included

points for presentation, originality, complexity and story. 

In the four divisions, Lower Elementary, Upper Elementary, Middle School, and High School, prizes were awarded to first, second, and third places in addition to multiple Judges Choice awards. In total, 17 awards were given out totaling an impressive $1,600 through generous donations from the MiSTEM Network Region 12, the Law Offices of Gillard, Bauer, Mazrum, Florip, Smigelski, & Gulden, and an anonymous donor. Top prizes for each division were a $150 Lego gift card and other prizes included Lego sets.  

“Organizers wish to thank all who participated in and supported this event and look forward to making next year’s event bigger and better,” Daniel Moffatt, stewardship and educational specialist with Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, said in a press release.

Third- and fourth-graders at Immanuel Lutheran School enjoyed taking part in the competition.

“We just invited all the students to do it, and we had 10 kids that entered,” Kowalski said. “And they’ve been working in three teams. We’ve met twice a week for the last six weeks, and we’ve created these builds.”

She said it has been an educational and enriching experience for the students.

“We’ve talked a lot about engineering and some engineering concepts like what’s collaboration, what’s compromise, how you work together as a team,” Kowalski said. “They have been learning a lot, and it’s been really fun to see what they’ve created, and how they work together outside of an academic environment, and how they create together, having fun creating together, and just coming up with stuff from their imagination.”


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