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The FIRST LEGO League Jr. Boomtown Build Inspire Set box. (LEGO Photo)

Kids who have caught on to the world of FIRST LEGO League competitions will have something new to build with next season, with exclusive new LEGO sets that actually focus on building and shaping cities.

LEGO Education and FIRST announced the news Wednesday at the FIRST Championship, where thousands of students from around the world — including some from the Seattle area — are competing in Houston this week in robotics competitions.

The Boomtown Build Inspire Set will be used by FIRST LEGO League Jr. competitors and will encourage them to think about building “a city to accommodate all different types of people,” LEGO said in a news release. Teams will use LEGO Education’s WeDo2.0 to create the programming part of their project.

The City Shaper Challenge Set is geared toward older FIRST LEGO League teams who will build and code an autonomous robot to complete a series of architecture-themed missions on the competition mat/playing field.

LEGO FIRST League City Shaper Challenge Set. (LEGO Photo)

Kids at various grade levels are inspired through mentor-based robotics programs to pursue science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers, and they compete in tournaments throughout the school year. FIRST Washington runs such programs and last month teamed with GeekWire to help put on the first GeekWire Robotics Cup in Seattle.

Teams that were part of that event are also in Houston this week, including the LEGO Lassies, a group of sixth-grade girls from Kirkland, Wash., and the Issaquah Robotics Society, high school kids from Issaquah, Wash.

“If you meet students where they are, challenge them appropriately, allow them meaningful failures, they will ultimately succeed, and this builds their confidence and desire to learn more, try more and stretch themselves and their learning,” Esben Stærk Jørgensen, president of LEGO Education, said in a statement. “We believe all students can gain confidence in STEAM through hands-on learning. We are excited for all FIRST LEGO League and FIRSTLEGO League Jr. participants to build their confidence in learning while competing with our newest architecture-themed sets.”

LEGO’s new SPIKE Prime competition ready unit. (LEGO Photo)

LEGO Education also announced a new LEGO Education SPIKE Prime that can be used in FIRST LEGO League competitions — the first time in FIRST LEGO League’s more-than-20-year history that participants can use another product in addition to LEGO Mindstorms to compete. SPIKE Prime and the SPIKE Prime Expansion Set can be pre-ordered today in the U.S. and will be available around the world in August.

“FIRST LEGO League Jr. and FIRST LEGO League allow students to engage in the same real-world challenges that scientists and engineers face today,” Donald Bossi, president of FIRST, said in the news release. “This coming season we’re thrilled for teams to explore city life through the architecture theme and create new, innovative solutions to improve our communities for the future. At the same time, hundreds of thousands of young students will be building problem-solving, teamwork, and communication skills that are critical to their own future success.”

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