As many as 250 young scientists from across the state will travel to West Virginia University to help find solutions to some of life’s problems—one Lego brick at a time.

The First Lego League 2014 Challenge, hosted by high school robotics group Mountaineer Area RoboticS and sponsored by the West Virginia University Department of Physics and Astronomy, will take place Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014 at 7:30 a.m. at Ming Hsieh and Olgebay Halls.

A total of 28 teams comprised of elementary and middle school students from across the northern part of the state will vie for the chance to qualify for the state championship.

The program challenges students to pose a question that they can then provide a solution to. This teaches them important skillsets such as critical thinking, communication, teamwork, creativity and problem solving. It also exposes them to the demands necessary for scientists and engineers.

Earl Scime, professor of physics and interim associate vice president for research, said the competition encourages the idea “that learning to do hard things can be fun and rewarding.”

Along with presenting their solutions, the teams will compete on proscribed challenge fields with sophisticated robots built entirely from LEGOs.

This is the first year the program has had a qualifying event, due to the rapid increase in popularity of the event. Participation has doubled from roughly 50 teams statewide in 2013 to over 100 this year. WVU is hosting one of many across the state.

Hosting an event such as this can spark some interest and provide the building blocks for an interest in the sciences, Scime said.

“When middle school students come to a university campus for this event, it may be the only time in their lives that they will set foot on a college campus,” Scime said. “Through this, WVU has a chance to be the place that they think of when they dream about going to college. Plus, as a land-grant institution it is our mission to educate youth across the entire state of West Virginia.”

And, they’ll get to have some fun building robots, too.

“The public is invited to watch the robot competitions, cheer on local teams and get inspired,” Scime said.