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Area students compete in The Lego League World Class Challenge at Union Station

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Some of the brightest young minds in Kansas City put their brain power to the test competing at "The Lego League World Class Challenge."

On Saturday, 40 teams of students, in grades forth through eighth from area schools, used Legos to compete against each other as innovators in the making.

"We are getting them ready to work in our work force in the KC area in things that are going to be really important in the future," said Gretchen Neis of the KC STEM Alliance.

And these students are serious about science and technology. The 40 teams had to earn their spots in The Lego World Class Challenge and then began duking it out for a number one spot in two different categories.

First they had to build a project that teaches someone something big.

The ‘Flying Penguins’ very name meant they needed a topic that was nearly impossible.  They chose teaching effectiveness.  Here's what their research indicated.

"What makes people effective? Respect, hard work, compassion, like what you are doing, responsibility, cooperation patience organization," they said.

The ‘Nighthawks’ took an entirely different path.  Their idea made it easier to integrate kids with special needs into traditional classrooms.

"We have rhyming, spelling, digraphs and sight words which we use to build sentences," said one team member.

It was hands-on learning that feels like fun.   The process taught the special needs and gifted kids about each other.

"They have helped us develop as people and learn how the world works and that we aren't the same. And everyone is different and even though we have our differences, we are all people and we should all respect each other and be kind to one another," said seventh grader John Murphy.

There were also robots, programmed to perform numerous tasks, with codes written by the kids.

The standards were high and with these students at the helm, and because of them Kansas City’s future in technology looks luminous.

The winners of Saturday's event were the Brick Ops Team from Overland Park, Kan.