Marley and Amelie had to construct a model rocket to illustrate their solution to possible challenges ships in space might encounter. (Tom Best Photo)

Lego League provincial champions

Smithers’ Marley and Amelie are B.C. Lego League champions, and are fundraising to compete in Texas.

This year’s colder, snowier weather might not seem like a great reason for a move from the far warmer climes of Albuquerque, New Mexico, and it certainly wasn’t why the Telles family made the move north. According the Haidi Telles, mother to the five strong youngsters who trekked north in October, it was a lifestyle choice.

“We have five kids and we wanted them to grow up in a community that could support them and nurture them, and was a safe place for them to grow up and where they could form connections,” she said.

Telles said neither she nor her husband are city people and like to be outside and enjoy nature like the local mountains and rivers.

She added that her brother had lived here and that 20 years ago she had lived here when she was just out of high school.

“When we were looking at B.C., this place kept coming back to us. It’s a wonderful, wonderful community,” she said.

When the move was made in October, home schooling was part of the plan but somehow making the move less difficult for the youngsters became a consideration.

One of the kids suggested that they become part of the local group for the activity they had enjoyed so much in the past.

“When he found out that there was no team here, he said, ‘we can have a team,’ so the family team was born. Because we moved mid-season we could not include team members from this area but we are looking forward to expanding the team,” she said.

They had two kids on team: Marley, 13 and Amelie, 9. This is Marley’s fourth season in Lego League. It’s Amelie’s third season but was previously she was in the junior league. This will be her first season in the more advanced league.

Lego League Robotics is enjoyed in over 100 countries and has quite a following in B.C., but almost all the teams are in southern B.C. The B.C. championships were recently held in Victoria with over 40 teams participating, with their new team travelling the furthest to compete.

They did not just participate, they impressed the judges to the point of winning the entire championship.

The competition is not merely a test of building something out of the children’s toy we all remember so well, it has three distinct defined components.

The first component is a challenge in which they have to build a working robot, which must navigate around a large sheet of plywood while performing specific challenges in order to gain points.

Next is a real-life problem for which they must provide a solution. This would be like a science fair project. The contestants must come up with a solution, build it and present the solution. They had to come up with a problem that astronauts might face in space. Their solution was an innovative idea that was basically a floating base that would have supplies, such as tools and be like a convenience store out in space. They were able to work with a metal worker at the high school and built a five-foot model rocket out of metal.

“My four-year-old thought that this thing was actually going to go out into space. Mr. Hubert at Smithers Secondary was very gracious and he opened up his metal working studio and his supplies and helped Marley build it,” explained Telles.

An important component of the competition was to be able to explain how their work related to the values that Lego League is based upon.

The final part of the competition was a surprise challenge in front of the judges. Divided by a screen, one person said what to build and the other had to build it out of Lego.

The Telles family all participated in the endeavour by making it a family project.

By winning the event, the team has been invited to attend an international event in Houston, Texas later in the year. They are currently in the process of raising funds for travel to the event.


Nick Telles helped his daughter Amelie and son Marley prepare their solutions to the various components of the Lego League Robtics competition. (Tom Best Photo)

The Lego League Robotics Championship was a family project after the family moved here from New Mexico. Left to Right (rear) Nick, Lyra, Marley, Ameiie, Haidi, (front) Blaze, Taj. (Tom Best Photo)

Sister Lyra became the mentor for the team of Marley and Amelie as she was too old to compete. (Tom Best Photo)

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