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Hundreds of B.C. students build water-conserving robots for Lego challenge

Hundreds of kids from across the Lower Mainland competed in the First Lego League Championship Tournament — a robot building event aimed at raising awareness for water conservation.

Hundreds of Lower Mainland students are among thousands of kids worldwide participating in event

Richard Zhang and his teammates from North Surrey Secondary School showcase their water-conserving robot during the First Lego League Championship Tournament. (Doug Kerr/CBC)

It's never too early to start thinking about water conservation.

That's the philosophy behind this year's First Lego League Championship Tournament — a competition that draws thousands of students across the globe to build robots out of the popular children's toy.

Hundreds of students across the Lower Mainland took part in a regional robot-building challenge Sunday at North Surrey Secondary School. The theme of the competition is hydrodynamics, a branch of physics that deals with the motion of fluids.

Organizers say the event doesn't just teach students about robotics, but also encourages teamwork, planning, and communication skills. (Doug Kerr/CBC)

"They have to learn all about water conservation — how water works and how we need water in our community and our environment," said Julie Occleshaw, a career development facilitator at North Surrey Secondary School.

After researching the importance of water and issues of water scarcity, students were asked to design robots that carried out tasks including transporting water, and even replacing broken pipes.

Students from North Surrey Secondary School build a LEGO robot that conserves water 0:40

Grade 7 student Ryan Zhang was one of the hundreds of students, aged nine to 14, who took part.

"It's really fun to gain knowledge in robotics that will maybe help us in the future — and maybe pursue a career in engineering," said Zhang.

"It's really fun having meetings every week, and just hanging out with my friends."

Robots were designed to carry out a multitude of tasks, including transporting and disposing of water. (Doug Kerr/CBC)

While the Surrey tournament was mostly for bragging rights, a bigger challenge is on the horizon.

Students from high schools across Canada — including North Surrey Secondary School — are in the midst of preparing for The First Robotics Challenge — an international robot-building competition.

Last year, the Surrey school's team placed 44th in the world tournament. It was the only team in B.C. to qualify.

Regional tournaments were held in over 80 countries across the globe. (Doug Kerr/CBC)

With files from Brenna Rose