MARS — Nine years ago an idea snapped into place at Old Union Presbyterian Church, 200 Union Church Road. And that’s the reason the church will host its ninth annual Lego Tournament from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.
The idea came in 2009 from an elementary school student with building on his mind, said Old Union’s pastor, the Rev. Peter de Vries.
“It was when we were building the addition to the church. It was his idea to do the Lego tournament,” said de Vries. “So we took his idea and we’ve done it every year since.”
The tournament, open to first- through sixth-graders, has evolved into five separate competitions.
De Vries said, “There is the prebuild competition where the contestants make something at home with their own Lego sets and bring it with them to the church.”
There is an on-site construction challenge and three specialty events using church-supplied identical Lego kits:
Speed build where builders are put on the clock to build a model the fastest;
Time build where contestants have a certain amount of time to come up with the most creative design; and
Partner build. De Vries said, “this a team event where one contestant is blindfolded. His partner can see but not touch the pieces and tells the blindfolded one what to build following his instructions.”
The contest is broken into age groups: first and second grade, third and fourth and fifth and sixth grade. The judges are Lego tournament alumni.
“After the competition there will be lunch and a short awards ceremony,” he said.
“They are judged on creativity, imagination, originality and unique concepts,” de Vries said. “We emphasize that we don’t build from a kit. We are encouraging creativity and imagination.”
“The prizes we hand out are Lego kits,” he said.
This is in line with Lego’s campaign, launched in the fall, to inspire families to explore new ways to help young children play and learn.
“Play is not just a fun diversion,” said Mirjam Schöning, head of programs and partnerships for the Lego Foundation.
“A growing body of evidence shows the importance of play in reducing anxiety as well as learning essential skills for our changing society, such as communication, collaboration and creative problem solving,” said Schöning.
De Vries said the tournament has endured because it’s a diversion.
“We always have it in January. It is a way to fight the midwinter blahs,” he said.
“This is open to anyone at all. We ask that you register. We stop at 40 registrants, but there is plenty of room left.
To register, email firstname.lastname@example.org.