News Anchor: Let’s go now to Lebanon where our reporter, Darby Billington, is on the scene of some breaking news. Darby?
Darby Billington: Thanks, John. This is Darby Billington reporting from Hezbollah’s 3rd Annual Lego League Championship here in Beirut. And let me tell you John, outrage is afoot.
The annual competition started by Hezbollah in 2008 brings teams of middle school aged children to the capital. Once here, the little tikes are asked to solve a real world problem in three hours or less using Lego Mindstorms. Unlike the American version of the competition, where only one team can win, if more than one group completes the challenge they are deemed worthy of the grand prize: a chance to build their Lego creations in real life. Don’t you just love cultural differences John?
New Anchor: Absolutely, Darby. So where is the controversy?
Darby: Well John, the controversy is over the task that the children were asked to perform. They were asked to build a Lego flotilla capable of battling its way through Battle Bay, Blackbeard’s ship, and four Lego UH-1D Helicopters, while drawing as few Lego people casualties as possible.
Representatives of Hezbollah don’t see what the ruckus is about. I quote them: “The task is fictitious. It is made up to teach children to think through tough problems in a group setting.” But statements of purpose like this one have not been enough to assuage the doubts of moderate Lebanese political groups and the Israeli Government. Earlier, I spoke with Ehud Ehudsen, an Israel government official in the Department of Late Childhood Development, about the competition. He had this to say.
Ehud: Legos? I’ve always loved Legos. I always thought they were harmless toys – if we forget about the infant choking hazard. But what Hezbollah asks the kids to do with Legos is unrealistic. No one can make it through Battle Bay unscathed, and the helicopters will certainly sink their ships!
Darby: But this is not the first time that the Hezbollah Lego League has been criticized for its challenges. The year before last’s competition had contestants create Lego missiles capable of dropping six 2×2 blocks at a 32° arc, and last year competitors successfully designed a voting machine that votes Hezbollah 54% of the time. There’s no question that these kids are bright, John. We’ll just have to wait and see what they come up with next year. Darby Billingtion, Beirut.
– von Germanberg ‘13