Brainy Bunch Lego League Grant

Connersville, meet “The Brainy Bunch.”

That’s what this group of seven local youth are termed by their coach Deanna Sargent, and they are aiming to use those brains to capture honors this weekend in Indianapolis in a statewide First Lego League competition.

The group, who range in age between 10- and 12-years-old, have spent the last few months learning about computer programming, problem solving and teamwork through the First Lego League concept, which focuses on the subjects of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) and makes it palatable for children between 9 and 14.

“Every year the kids are challenged to come up with an idea to solve a major world problem,” Sargent said Thursday. “This year’s theme was titled ‘Trash Trek.’ They were challenged to improve the trash system, recycling system, or re-purpose an item.”

That project began with “The Brainy Bunch” paying a visit to the Connersville Transfer Station, where under the tutelage of Tom Creech, the students observed how the station processes both garbage and recyclables. That experience was buttressed by several videos detailing the operation of recycling sorting machines.

Through those videos, which consistently emphasized the negative impact of plastic bags on the environment, the group found its goal of addressing that problem, according to Sargent.

“Their solution is ‘Brainy Bags!’” she said. “The team gathered old T-shirts from several people in town — as a bonus, they were saved from the landfills. Then, with the help of two grandmas, they designed and sewed together almost 40 bags. These bags are perfect for grocery shopping, going to the gym or beach, or using as laundry bags. They are durable and machine washable.”

That solution will be stacked up against dozens of other Indiana teams this weekend at the Indianapolis Public Library, where they will compete in a First Lego League Qualifying Tournament in their effort to be one of 52 teams competing Dec. 12 for the state title in Fort Wayne.

The team also received a huge boost in its efforts from the Fayette County Foundation, which fully funded the program this year, according to Sargent.

“We are eternally grateful for the investment into the future of our local youth,” she said.

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