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LEGO My Winning Creation

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One of the best Danish inventions (besides their pastries) are the brightly colored plastic bricks many of us remember from childhood: LEGOs. Based on the Danish phrase "leg godt" which means "play well," these little interlocking bricks create a world of potential for youngsters—and adults. Molded in a variety of shapes and sizes, the little pieces of plastic can be snapped together to create, well, just about anything.

"Last year the Boys and Girls Club made a replica of the Boise State arena," said Jordan Barrington, Garden City Library's team events coordinator. "It was incredibly huge. They did the field, and they did a couple seats up, they put some LEGO characters as the football players."

Numerous scientific studies have been published on LEGO as a tool for cognitive development in young children. LEGO itself offers product lines for every age group. For toddlers, who apply a saliva mortar between their bricks, they offer big, smooth edged bricks. As children grow, they can move on to the mecca of untapped architectural potential: a giant bucket full of bricks of numerous sizes and shapes along with wheels, LEGO people and so much more.

The Garden City Public Library recognizes the power of LEGOs, and is hosting their fourth annual call to arms for intrepid builders to participate in their LEGO contest, which takes place on Thursday, Jan. 20. The rules are simple: bring in a original LEGO creation for exhibition, no kits or Bionicle toys (which are also made by LEGO)—each creation must contain a minimum of 75 LEGO pieces.

"Someone before did a pirate ship scene sort of one. We've had people come in with airplanes and houses, things like that," said Barrington.

In addition to traditional bricks, there will be a Mindstorms division for creations that branch off the LEGO universe. Mindstorms pairs the world of interlocking bricks with mechanics, physics, electronics and circuitry. Utilizing a special piece called the NXT Brick, kids can create battery-powered creations that utilize ranges of motion and make sounds—effectively a miniature robotics kit. From there, kids can utilize color, ultrasonic and touch-sensor bricks, including special NXT software to program and code higher functions.

"This one kid came in—I think he was 7-years-old—he created a robot that organized crayons by their color, and sorted them. He had his little laptop set up and he had programmed it," Barrington said.

What's a competition without prizes? According to the GCPL, prizes will be based upon the individual age groups, with an age-appropriate LEGO set for the winner, to be judged by a team of community engineers. The categories are as follows: ages 4-5 years old, 6-7 years old, 8-9 years old and 10-12 years old. For this one, the adults will just have to watch.