Lego Night returns to encourage STEM awareness

The third annual LEGO Night returns to the Upper Elementary School on Tuesday, March 27.

When Moorestown High School’s FIRST Robotics team, the Combustible Lemons, held its first “Lego Night” four years ago, it didn’t know what to expect. Senior Sundari Parise said they anticipated around 50 people attending, and when nearly 200 people showed up, the Combustible Lemons were taken aback.

Since receiving an overwhelming response their first year, the Combustible Lemons have steadily grown the event, but having helped organize and a host a FIRST Lego League event last year, the Lemons did not have Lego Night in 2017. Parise said they heard from several parents that they missed the event, and so on Tuesday, March 27, Lego Night returns to the Upper Elementary School.

The goal of Lego Night is to teach young students about STEM activities and potentially spark an interest in joining a FIRST Lego League team now or a FIRST Robotics team when the students reach high school, according to senior Laura Tsai.

The night is geared toward students in kindergarten through sixth grade, and the event is centered around the theme “Journey to the Future.” Students will build futuristic forms of transport, habitats on other planets and other creations in line with the future theme, Tsai said.

Students in kindergarten through second grade will participate in a non-competitive build and will have their creations featured in a parade at the end of the night. Participants in third through sixth grade will have their work judged by members of the Combustible Lemons, with students winning prizes in a wide array of categories such as “most creative” or “best overall,” Tsai said.

“We want them to be enriched into this new experience for the sake of their own creative thinking,” Tsai said.

The evening will also be more informational than years past, according to Parise. She said there will be tables explaining what FIRST Robotics and FIRST Lego League is where parents can come and ask questions. The Combustible Lemons will also have their robot on hand for demonstrations and to let attendees test drive.

“The overall goal is to just have fun, but at the same time, make it educational,” Tsai said.

Parise said the goal of Lego Night is to get STEM on young students’ radar. She said having participated in FIRST Lego League at a young age, and then going on to join FIRST Robotics in high school, set her on a path toward her future career. Upon graduating, Parise plans to study biomedical engineering at Johns Hopkins University, which is a decision she said came about as a result of having been exposed to engineering through FIRST.

The night is also one of the primary fundraisers for the Combustible Lemons. Parise said any funds raised from ticket or food sales go directly back into the program and fund the team’s transportation and registration fees.

Tsai said organizing Lego Night has been a months-long process. With the help of the team’s parent boosters, students and parents alike are donating food, Lego kits and other supplies to help make the evening’s festivities a success.

Tsai and Parise said they’ll be helping make sure everything runs smoothly that evening, but with any free time they have, they hope to connect with some of the younger kids. Tsai said even if the event doesn’t encourage every student in attendance to join FIRST, it at least gets them thinking about STEM programs.

“I think it’s really interesting to hear what these young minds have to say,” Tsai said.

Tsai said she encourages students to come out for a night where they can have fun, become an inventor and connect with other people who are excited about what STEM has to offer.

Lego Night will take place from 5 to 7:30 p.m. in the cafeteria and gymnasium at the Upper Elementary School. Tickets are $5 for participating students on sale at www.tinyurl.com/LEGONight2018. For more information, email the Combustible Lemons at frc5113@gmail.com.