Youth take part in Block Kids Competition

Youth take part in Block Kids Competition
Hundreds of young builders gathered at Valley River Center to compete in the annual Block Kids Competition on Saturday. (Photo by Tianyi Wu)

EUGENE, Ore. — Nearly a hundred young builders gathered at Valley River Center to compete in the Annual Block Kids Competition Saturday afternoon.

The competition, co-sponsored by the National Association of Women in Construction, Valley River Center and the Science Factory, is designed to spark elementary school aged children’s interest in design and construction.

“It is just grown over the years,” said Emily Shelton, the marketing director at the NAWIC who has organized the event for the past three years. “We typically have about 50 families participate and now we have 80 children.”

Children, in grades 1 through 6, designed and built a structure out of 100 interlocking blocks of different sizes, plus their choice of three of four other building materials - aluminum foil, poster board, rock and string - in the 45-minute competition.

“Kids are into LEGO right now,” said Sandra Gerber, a member of NAWIC. “This is an opportunity for them to share their hobbies outside home.”

During the free event, near the NW mall entrance, kids were busy creating innovative structures.

Kyle Briggs, 8, created a muti-purpose tool during the competition. “This is not only a hammer,” he said. “When you look at the other side, it is a cutter!”

Kyle said, excitedly, to several judges, “I have a lot of Legos at home and I even have an ‘army’!”

Architects, engineers and builders judged the projects and the children’s explanations of their design.

Ari Soulier, a first-grader at Sunnyside Elementary School in Clackamas, Ore., built a robot with an aluminum cape that flies material to builders at construction sites. Soulier nabbed the overall grand prize, the top spot in the 1st-2nd grade category, and a $50 gift certificate to the Valley River Center donated by the mall.

Serine Alp, a student at Charlemagne at Fox Hollow Elementary School in Eugene, won the 3rd-4th grade category. Tyler Borneman, a student at Guy Lee Elementary School in Springfield, won the 5th-6th grade category.

The grand prize winner’s project has been entered in a regional competition with a chance of competing at the national level. Photos of the top finishers and their projects will be on display at the Science Factory.