Nonprofit FIRST to Host its Lego League championship at Norwich 

 On Saturday, January 28, the FIRST Lego League will be hosting its Vermont state championship here at Norwich University in the Shapiro Field House from 8 AM to  6 PM. 

 According to the organization, FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to “[preparing] young people for the future through a suite of inclusive, team-based robotics programs for ages 4-18 (PreK-12) that can be facilitated in school or in structured after-school programs.” 

 Norwich University Electrical Engineering Professor Michael Cross, who coaches a local FIRST Lego League challenge team and is a member of FIRSTinVT, a non-profit dedicated to developing FIRST’s presence in Vermont. Says that the event not only focuses on developing skills in robotics but also on developing “problem-solving and teamwork skills, two skills that are transferable to almost anything.” 

 Those who attend on their own or volunteer to help with the event through the Center for Civic Engagement ( can, according to Professor Cross,  expect to see hundreds of students competing in about 29 teams, which is a record high since the start of the pandemic in 2020, when Vermont had only two teams active. 

Norwich University student John Hedley, majoring in Electrical and Computer Engineering, will be the head referee for the event on the 28th. 

According to John, he’s had a long history with the First Lego League. He first participated in the League in the 7th grade and credited his interest in engineering to the League. Saying that, “…[FIRST Lego League] was where I first learned that I love to program and have a knack for building things. It was, by far and away, the most fun activity I did in school. I heard our team name called for many awards while competing against 30-40 other schools. I watched the robots I helped build and program complete each mission with precision. I made memories that have stuck with me and pushed me to get to where I am today,“ and that the League “…allows kids to discover and really explore interests in STEM fields that grade school classes don’t offer. “ 

John added that in addition to the lego robotics portion of the competition, teams would also be tasked with creating an “innovative project” that will solve a problem related to the yearly theme. This year’s theme will be green energy. 

 This will be the first in-person competition since 2019.