Lego Expo, part two

After all those months of planning and preparation, the Expo itself went remarkably well.  The volunteers were fantastic and took over the nitty-gritty details, leaving me free to chat with kids and their parents and assist the judges.  The judges were equally fantastic, taking their job very seriously while having a great time talking with each child and viewing their models.  The kids and their parents were terrific, enjoying each other’s models while loving the moments of unadultered attention as a judge listened to the story behind their model.

The first age group, the 3 to 5 year olds, was small and manageable, allowing the judges to really give personal attention to each of these tender young Lego artists.  Lots of great models here: a tricked out Duplo mini-van, Stretchy Frogs Super Agent Spy Mobiles, a rocket, an amusement park, and others that I (unfortunately!) can’t remember.  For this age group, it’s more about the story behind the model than the model itself, and the judges (Marc and Tina) did a wonderful job listening to each child and remembering key points about each model when it came time to present the Certificates of Achievement.  Marc and Tina quite wisely decided to forgo place ribbons for this group, and instead placed the emphasis on giving each child a moment in the spotlight; everyone got a round of applause and knew that his or her model had been seen and appreciated.  There were some tears when I drew the raffle winner, though, which made me think I need to do that age group’s raffle drawing differently, either altering my announcement to warn that only one child will win, or drawing the winner after the Expo, or perhaps eliminating the raffle item entirely.  Something to chew on…

The next age group, the 5 to 9 year olds, was enormous and enthusiastic.  The judges for this group, Bess, Marc, Rob, and David, were a bit overwhelmed by the volume of entries and the verbosity of the model builders, putting my careful plans way behind schedule.  Once again, I’ll have to make changes for next year here.  I think the best route will be to divide this group into two groups, which I can do based upon the ages of the attendees on Saturday (Excel spreadsheet, here we come!).  But even though the judging was long and involved here, I think that the judges still enjoyed themselves.  This age group is the “sweet spot” for Legos, brimming over with joy and creativity and storytelling.  There were Lego museums, Lego spaceships, Lego wars, Lego recycling centers, and even a Lego rainbow (my favorite).  And, happily, a mix of boys and girls participating.  The judges did award place ribbons here, though there were multiple 1st place winners, and multiple 2nd and 3rd place winners.  This age expected competition, and no one was distressed by the awarding of ribbons.  Likewise, I prefaced my drawing of the raffle Lego set with some sort of garbled statement that only one person would win, please no one be upset, yadda yadda yadda. 

The oldest age group, ages 9 – 12+, turned out to be only 10 and 11 year old boys.  (What happens to the girls?  How sad!)  This group was more focused on mechanics and engineering, with lots of remote controlled models and cool mechanical design.  The judges for this group, Bess, Rob, and Bart, had an easier time making the rounds, but a much, much harder time picking winners.  How to compare a lobsterboat setup with a remote-controlled car?  How to measure conceptual design versus technical expertise?  Ultimately, they wisely decided to award 2 of each ribbon, negotiating amongst themselves as they narrowed the field down.   And the raffle drawing was painless and happy.

Though exhausting, it was a wonderful, wonderful day.  So many happy kids, so much community spirit and good will in the room.  And it was terrific to be part of something that emphasized childrens’ creativity with their hands and their minds – no t.v., no computers. 

I’ll be sending out personal thank-yous to each volunteer and judge, but I’d also like to print here a very heartfelt expression of gratitude to this special group of people.  Without them, there wouldn’t have been a Lego Expo.  Thank you.

One thought on “Lego Expo, part two”

  1. Wow! What a cool event! Harvard is amazingly lucky to have this library in its town. I bet kids who grow up on the Harvard Public Library associate libraries and books with coolness, and how great that is for the world!

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