'Legos at the Zoo' will bring together rhinos, robotics

May 26, 2015 - 9:25am

Students use Legos to bring to showcase engineering skills and make a pitch for conservation

Future engineers, inventors and roboticists from Oregon Episcopal School's "Lego Physics" program will show off their animal-themed creations at the Oregon Zoo this month: dozens of elaborate Lego constructions involving motors, programmable bricks, sensors and computers.

The 15th annual Legos at the Zoo science fair, free and open to the public, takes place May 30-31 in the Skyline Room, just downstairs from the Cascade Grill. Zoo admission is not required to attend.

The displays are planned, designed, programmed and built entirely by OES students. Advanced Lego "engineers," ages 8 to 17, will demonstrate their creations and the science behind them.

"The zoo show is always a highlight for us," said Jane Kenney-Norberg, who developed and oversees OES's Lego-based after-school science program. "The kids learn about wildlife as they come up with their zoo-themed creations. This year's Logo Board involves a trip around the world and includes a conservation message about the eastern black rhino, one of the most endangered animals on the planet."

The Lego Logo Board, new each year, challenges students to devise a story using elaborate motorized sequences and their own code. This year's edition is titled "Zuri the Rhino Travels the World."

"Zuri is such a beautiful animal," Kenney-Norberg said. "She reminds us of what we stand to lose if we don't protect these amazing creatures."