Coding, innovating and Lego robots were all part of an international science competition for students, held in the South West for the first time. Schools from Waroona to Busselton took part in FIRST Australia’s LEGO League, which sees students aged nine to 16 pitted against one another in a competition that tests critical thinking. The competition — sponsored by Curtin University and nationally by Macquarie University in NSW — saw 18 teams collecting points for teamwork, challenge outcomes and innovative ideas. Treendale Primary School team Brilliantly Organised Builders have met every Wednesday night for three terms to practice for the competition, which principal Candice Barclay said positively impacted students’ problem solving and critical thinking skills as well as their science, technology and math skills. “It’s the by-product that is the most valuable thing, because most of these kids can code most of them can build Lego but not all of them can think critically about an idea or problem,” she said. “A lot of these kids aren’t interested in engaging in team sports but this is an area of interest for them and they really get engaged in it.” Teams are also asked to create a unique innovation project which they then have to pitch to businesses and scientifically explain to judges, with this year’s theme focusing on logistics and transportation. Eaton Primary School Lego League coach, and winner of this year’s coaches award, David Hill said LEGO League had become an established program in the school and was not just about coding and robots. “The innovation project is about making sure the kids are thinking about how they can make a bit of change and have an effect on their community, ” he said. Teams from both Treendale and Eaton primary schools built their way through to the State championship finals on December 11 at Curtin University to go head to head with students from Perth Modern School.