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SALT LAKE CITY — The first state qualifying rounds in a nationwide Lego tournament began in several locations around Utah on Saturday.
More than 200,000 students nationwide are competing in the First Lego League Championship. The competition includes using simple Lego bricks to build complex and innovative structures, including autonomous robots.
The Utah First Lego League — a program run by the University of Utah — is hosting 14 pre-qualifying competitions to ignite enthusiasm for discovery, science, teamwork and technology.
On Saturday, competitors built robots and programmed software to complete missions by solving real-world challenges in just five minutes.
"These are geniuses. They are future innovators, future scientists, these are the future generation of America, of the world," said Marilyn Lee of the Utah First Lego League. "And they are competing to build things with their imagination. These are the future creators."
The events allow youths ages 9 to 14 to compete in teams on a thematic playing field. The winning teams receive a trophy made out of Lego bricks and advance to the state championship.
The next qualifying round will take place across the state on Jan. 11. Teams that advance will be in the Utah finals on Jan. 25 at the University of Utah. Winners at the finals will then compete in the national finals in St. Louis in April.
For a list of locations where the Jan. 11 competitions will take place, visit Utah First Lego League's website.