Although the team is only in its second year, the St. Joseph Catholic School First Lego League squad will be competing for a state championship in Fayetteville on Friday, Jan. 19 and Saturday, Jan. 20.

Eileen Freeman, who coaches the team, feels good about their chances.

“I think our chances are pretty good,” she said last week.

The First Lego League is a program emphasizing science, technology, engineering and math for students in middle school grades. The team from St. Joseph’s in Paris has 10 members in grades six to eight and won its regional championship on Dec. 16 in Springdale.

The competition has three stages — how well the team follows the 10 core values of the league, a robotics competition and a team project, which has a different focus each year.

In the regionals, the team from St. Joseph’s scored highest in seven of the 10 core values and second in three. As Freeman put it, core values basically covers how well team members work together. The team then finished second in the robotics competition. In that competition, team members have to program a robot (all teams use the same kind of robot) to successfully complete several tasks. In the project competition, the team had to come up with a way to provide clean water to people who didn’t have access to it.

“We didn’t win,” Freeman said of the project competition. “But, we did pretty well.”

The idea of getting involved in the First Lego League came from Charles Wu, whose son Daniel attends St. Joseph. The Wus live in Subiaco and Charles Wu spends four days a week in Searcy at Harding University where he is a professor of engineering.

“He bought his son Daniel an EV3 robot, which is the kind used in First Lego League,” Freeman said. “He came to me and asked if I was interested in First Lego League and we went to work.”

Freeman said she takes 30 minutes of her science class time to work on skills needed to compete in the First Lego League.

At the state competition, the St. Joseph team will be competing against 36 teams. The only other school from Logan County to make it into the finals was Booneville.