CLEARFIELD -- For eighth-grader Carson Crook, building Lego creations is a means to an end.
"I want to be an aeronautical or computer engineer," he said. "(The FIRST Lego League) is experience with computers and building stuff."
Crook, a member of the FIRST Lego League (FIRST: For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) at North Davis Junior High School, participated in a clash of robot skills against teams from Wasatch and Hill Field elementary schools.
The scrimmage among four teams from the three Clearfield schools, held Saturday morning at Hill Field, is in preparation for the statewide competition to be held in January at Weber State University in Ogden.
The competition for grades four through eight requires students to design and build a functioning Lego robot.
The robots are expected to accomplish such tasks as maneuvering through obstacles, sweeping objects out of the way and delivering items to various areas of the playing field.
The students are also responsible for creating the computer software that controls the robots.
Wayne Sumner, volunteer coach of Wasatch Elementary's team, is an astronomy and engineering teacher at Northridge High School in Layton.
"By the time (students) get to high school, many of them have already decided, 'I can't do math, or I can't do science,'aa" Sumner said.
"You catch them at this age, and they haven't learned that yet. ... We want these kids to come to high school excited about math and science."
Another portion of the competition is a research project on a real-world scientific problem. The students were asked to investigate their food and find a way to improve its safe delivery to the consumer.
Carson's team investigated the issue of bacteria that can form in reusable shopping bags. They proposed solutions, including a washable liner for the bags or a separation box within the bags to prevent cross contamination between foods.
"It's not about robots. It's about understanding math, science, technology and engineering within an activity that gives kids more real-life, real-world possibilities," said Frances Bradshaw, who helped coordinate the event.
She is the former coordinator of the National Department of Educational Programs Science, Technology, Engineering and Math at Hill Air Force Base.
"This is like a tiny version of what it would be like to work in science and engineering. ... I think it's been fantastic."