Kids learn about Lego building in Bedford Town Hall

BEDFORD – “The Lego Movie,” a computer-animated adventure film, was a global hit that was snubbed for an Academy Award on Sunday night.

But the seven boys at a Lego League Master Building Program last week had challenges of their own as they learned how to make toys with the colorful, interlocking plastic bricks.

They were in Bedford Town Hall getting help from Daniel Hughes, a volunteer coordinator with the New Hampshire Lego League.

Hughes brought about 40 plastic containers with thousands of bricks, minifigures and other Lego items for the boys to pick through and take back to tables to work with.

Designed for ages 6-14, the Lego building program is divided into two-week sessions, and each session focuses on a specific challenge.

During the first hour of the 3-5 p.m. session last week, the “free building” time, Oscar Aguiar built an underwater research station, Matthew Jobin built an XCI Charger, a vehicle he invented, and Oliver Nalenz constructed what started out as a boat and then became a plane.

Other boys built race cars; a S.H.I.E.L.D. carrier, as seen in Marvel Comics; and a go-cart.

The second hour was devoted to a challenge from Hughes, and that day’s challenge was maze building, with the boys building the mazes and then figuring out how to get a marble through them.

Hughes, who lives in Goffstown, said he loves the job.

“Lego Man,” as the boys call him, started playing with Legos when he was young, but really got into it when his son started playing with them.

After volunteering to teach Lego construction at schools and summer camps, he was hired for a full-time job with the New Hampshire Lego League, and now he works with around 500 kids a year.

“I love seeing what kids can do,” Hughes said. “Some are a thousand times better than I am. One made his own dragon without any instruction. It was amazing.”

As anyone who has ever played with Lego bricks knows, the first challenge is making sure to stagger the bricks so that the constructions have stability.

Most of the boys in the session seemed to have that lesson down pat. Then comes building windows and doors and creating roofs that can be pulled off for access to the interior, Hughes said.

The New Hampshire Lego League offers in-school, after-school and evening master builders programs for students in grades 1-8, with a mix of building challenges, Lego brick races and free-building programs. For more information, visit nhlegoleague.com.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or kcleveland@cabinet.com.