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First Lego League teams work on a 'senior solution's' topic

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - West Linn First Lego League teams learned about aging firsthand with Elders in Action. Lego Megos, Team Electronic Lego Fanatics, The Robo Warriors, The River Bunnies, and Flying Lego Lizards showing off their robots in action.About 10 First Lego League teams in the West Linn-Wilsonville School District presented their robots and learned about the effects of aging firsthand on Nov. 8 during a presentation from Elders in Action at Rosemont Ridge Middle School.

Students wore different glasses to simulate the effects of tunnel vision and loss of peripheral vision. They looked through yellow cellophane to simulate the yellowing of vision and rubbed Vaseline over the lenses to experience living with cataracts.

Students learned about the effects of aging on taste, smell and flexibility, and they wrapped their finger joints in tape to simulate changes in dexterity. Students walked around with cotton balls in their ears to simulate hearing loss and discovered how socially isolating it can feel to be hard of hearing.

First Lego League teams are for grades fourth through ninth. This year, teams must build a functional robot and partner with a senior citizen to present a “senior solution” to an issue seniors may face. Teams will compete and present their research at competition in December.

“The project is the most difficult part of First Lego League, making the robot is the fun part,” said event organizer Tim Manes, who also coaches the Lego Megos of Rosemont Ridge. “I think it’s a difficult topic for them because in the past they dealt with food spoilage and contamination, which kids understood a little more.”

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Hunter Crawford looked through yellow cellophane to simulate the affects of yellowing on vision. 
The aging awareness presentation was developed by Elders in Action in the early 1990s. Elders in Action is a volunteer organization that works to solve problems and help businesses and communities better serve the older customer.

Joan Corella with Elders in Action led the presentation at Rosemont Ridge Middle School. Corella said the “seniors solution” topic is exciting and that cross-generational collaboration is important.

“Our goal is to give students a sense of some of the challenges seniors face, create awareness on how our bodies change and then focus on things we can do to age healthily,” she said. “The idea is to give teams ideas or food for thought and help them with their projects.

“Afterward we have conversations with the kids about what their experience was like and how it felt to have some of these challenges presented to them.”

Corella said in recent months Elders in Action has presented to First Lego League teams through the Portland area. She said the aging awareness presentation has been somewhat of a wakeup call for most students.

“If you are 10, 12, 14 years old you haven’t really thought about these issues,” she said. “You may have noticed how someone who is 80 walks a little slower or can’t hold on to things but you never thought about the reality of it.”

At the end of the presentation, students were shown a census chart.

“Today, about 12 percent of the population is over the age of 65,” Corella said. “Within 20 years it’s expected to be one in four. So in the student’s lifetime, they will see a lot more seniors.”

For more information about Elders in Action, visit http://eldersinaction.org or call 503-235-5474.



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