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Scenes form the South Dakota LEGO League state championship

Tim Davison

This segment originally aired on "In the Moment" on SDPB Radio.

In total, 28 teams from around the state participated in the EmBe FIRST LEGO League State Championship at the Elmen Center on the campus of Augustana University.

Although each team is facilitated by a coach, there is a heavy emphasis on student ideas and implementation. Teammates work together as a team to come up with ideas, build them out, and program robots to do tasks on the “challenge field.”

“The robot challenge is in many ways just the hook,” to get kids excited about the program, according to program director Gerald Messersmith.

Once a team is formed, they are introduced to many different learning opportunities in STEM, but, “there is another part of FIRST LEGO League that is equally important, if not more so, and that is the innovation project," Messersmith said.

This is where students can take the issues of the world head on. Not tomorrow, but today. The Coder’s Cubed team from Rapid City created a way for their classmate with cerebral palsy to manipulate a Rubik’s Cube by pushing a series of arcade style buttons instead of manually rotating the puzzle.

The Bobcat Builders learned about public outreach and spreading happiness by approaching a retirement home and the South Dakota Children’s Museum to have LEGO play days with their team.

Successful teams now have the opportunity to advance to national competitions held nationwide, where they can interact with teams from around the globe

Winning teams in the competition are:

  • Coach/Mentor Award: The Brick Wall H-BC Robotics
  • Core Values Award: Lego My Eggo
  • Innovation Project Award: Baltech
  • Robot Design Award: Wildbots
  • With a high score of 340, the Robot Performance Award goes to: Bob Cat Builders
  • The Champion’s Award: First Advancement Choice: Blue Bricks
  • The Champion’s Award: Finalist and Second Choice: ROARbotics

For those who are inspired to build, Messersmith encourages parents and teachers to reach out to form a team for next year’s competition season.
To learn more, contact Messersmith at (605) 800-4249 or

Tim Davison joined the SDPB team in 2022 as an Emerging Content Producer. Originally from Nebraska, Tim has held many different positions over his career, including work on film and media projects focused on natural history and wildlife conservation. Most recently, he worked on Planet California, which aired in the summer of 2022 on PBS. An outdoorsman and oil painter, Tim describes himself as a lover of strong coffee, witty puns, and well-crafted storytelling. He and his wife, Stephanie Arne of Pierre, currently live with their dogs, cats, and innumerable plants in Sioux Falls.