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Jackson to host inaugural IGA LEGO Invitational

Posted: February 10, 2011 4:18 p.m.
Updated: February 11, 2011 5:00 a.m.
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Jackson School LEGO Robotics team members Darrion Clay and Abigail Huh practice their skills. Jackson School will host its first IGA LEGO Robotics Invitational Feb. 19.

It’s the first event of its kind in Kershaw County.

Jackson School will host its first IGA LEGO Invitational Feb. 19, a competition that will allow LEGO Robotics teams to collaborate with each other about robot designs and programming skills.

“Every year, LEGO teams have the opportunity to compete in regionals, but this year, our team did not win. The kids were just devastated. So we wanted to give them and all of the other teams at regionals another chance to compete,” said Jackson School Principal Dr. Gerald Gary. “And from there, we decided to hold the first annual IGA LEGO Invitational.”

Gary said the competition for elementary and middle schools, which is sponsored by the Camden IGA, will allow regional winners one final opportunity to prepare for the state LEGO robotics tournament.

Additionally, it will give schools that did not qualify for the state tournament an opportunity to compete and share what they have learned since their regional competition.

“So once we got the idea, we had to think about, ‘Now how could we make this attractive?’” Gary said. “We talked with IGA about making it a community event, and they were really supportive about it. They liked the idea and we went with it.”

And since getting the word out, as many as 14 schools have signed up for the competition, far exceeding Gary’s expectations.

“It’s funny, because when we started planning we said that if we get 10 teams to sign up then we’ll be happy,” he said, laughing.

Next year, Gary said he hopes to have 25 to 30 teams signed up for the annual competition. And after five years, he said, he hopes that as many as 40 teams sign up for the competition.

“Our goal is to be the designated stop between the regional and the state competition. Our goal is that five years from now, that this competition will be a pretty big boom for the economy in Kershaw County,” he said, adding that several teams plan to stay at hotels in Kershaw County before the competition.  

And what’s really great about this competition, Gary said, is that it’s located right in the county and won’t require students to travel to another city.

Thursday, Camden IGA Manager Trey Williams said his store is always willing to partner with Jackson School anytime it needs help.

 “We try to help out as much as we can,” Williams said, adding that the competition for the students sounded like a really great community event. “It’s a win-win for everybody.”

The first IGA LEGO Invitational will be Feb. 19 at Jackson School, 1730 Jefferson Davis Hwy., Camden. Registration begins at 8 a.m.

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