HORLYK: Sergeant Bluff girl builds reputation with tiny plastic blocks

2013-12-13T22:30:00Z 2015-03-16T16:52:18Z HORLYK: Sergeant Bluff girl builds reputation with tiny plastic blocksEARL HORLYK ehorlyk@siouxcityjournal.com Sioux City Journal
December 13, 2013 10:30 pm  • 

SERGEANT BLUFF | Madison Colvert, 10, knows what to do in the event of a deadly tornado.

The Sergeant Bluff-Luton Elementary School student would grab some Legos and build herself a motorized robot.

"You can do anything with Lego," Madison said sensibly.

Madison is one of five girls making up "Dorothy's Revenge," a Sergeant Bluff-based Girl Scout team that participated at the First Lego League regional competition, held Dec. 7 at West High School.

Dorothy's Revenge's third-place finish was good enough to secure the team an invitation to compete at the First Lego League Championships at Iowa State University's College of Engineering in Ames on Jan. 18.

So, what can a bunch of colorful, plastic bricks do in a natural disaster?

For instance, rescue vehicles -- made of Lego -- can be transported. And downed trees -- also built from Lego -- can be removed using a programmed robot made with a Lego Mindstorm robotics kit.

"We call our robot Toto since we have a 'Wizard of Oz' theme," explained Sergeant Bluff-Luton Middle School student and Dorothy's Revenge co-captain Kira Bliss.

This year will mark the fourth time Kira, 13, and fellow captain Shelby Murray, 14, have made it to the state finals, where teams are judged for robot design, project development and following core values such as good sportsmanship, professionalism and working as a team.

"We haven't won yet," Kira admitted, "but we feel confident about things this year."

Luckily, Dorothy's Revenge has a ringer in Shelby, who wants to be an engineer when she grows up.

"Some girls aren't into math and science," Shelby, a Sioux City North Middle School student, observed, "but those have always been my favorite classes."

Even though Kalyope Miller, 13, isn't an engineering wiz, the Sergeant Bluff-Luton Middle School student brings a competitive zeal.

"I'm into volleyball, basketball you name it," Kalyope said, "so, yeah, I wanna win."

Katelyn Sheet's involvement in Dorothy's Revenge is admittedly more obscure.

"I love animals and animals are often victims in natural disasters," the Lawton-Bronson Elementary School student said. "I want to make sure pets are safe and sound in the event of a natural disaster."

Katelyn's desire to keep four-legged creatures safe might be more laudatory than Kira's professed skills.

"I'm better at knocking things down than building things up," the aspiring graphic designer and self-admitted "Dr. Who super fan" admitted. "Guess my talent comes in destruction."

Amber Bliss thinks her daughter, Kira, is being too hard on herself.

"It's truly amazing what Kira and the other girls are able to do using computer programs, Lego and their imagination," explained Bliss, who is also the team's coach.

Indeed, her living room has been Dorothy's Revenge's chief workshop and testing center since the girls began their First Lego League project in August.

Which is fine by Kira, who said learning is more fun when it's done with Lego.

"Lego may be toys," she said with a smile, "but it's cool to see all of the things we can do with them."

Copyright 2015 Sioux City Journal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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