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


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."

The Oregon Zoo is a service of Metro and is dedicated to its mission of inspiring the community to create a better future for wildlife. Committed to conservation, the zoo is currently working to save endangered California condors, Columbia Basin pygmy rabbits, Oregon silverspot and Taylor’s checkerspot butterflies, Western pond turtles and Oregon spotted frogs. Other projects include studies on black rhinos, Asian elephants, polar bears and bats.
The zoo relies in part on community support through donations to the Oregon Zoo Foundation to undertake these and many other animal welfare, education and sustainability programs. The zoo is located five minutes from downtown Portland, just off Highway 26 at exit 72. The zoo is also accessible by MAX light rail line. Visitors who travel to the zoo via MAX receive $1.50 off zoo admission. Find fare and route information online or by calling TriMet Customer Service at 503-238-RIDE (7433).
General zoo admission is $10.50 (ages 12-64), $9 for seniors (65 and up), $7.50 for children (ages 3-11) and free for those 2 and younger; 25 cents of the admission price helps fund regional conservation projects through the zoo’s Future for Wildlife program. A parking fee of $4 per car is also required. Additional information is available by calling 503-226-1561.

Media contact: 

Hova Najarian | 503-220-5714 | hova.najarian@oregonzoo.org