OGDEN — A couple hundred kids and a couple hundred thousand LEGO pieces came together Saturday for the cause of education.

Weber State University partnered with the National Defense Education Program at Hill Air Force Base to host the Utah FIRST LEGO League event, a robotics and innovation qualifying competition aiming to increase interest in science and technology.

School-age children, age 9 to 14, are invited to build robots that are then assigned to complete prescribed tasks. Each participant learns various skills by applying math and science concepts, critical thinking and team-building exercises. They compete in various challenges and are also awarded on design and function of their robots.

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Saturday's was one of nine friendly competitions in the state of Utah, all in January, with approximately 1,500 kids in 150 teams participating. Sixty teams participated last year and each is given eight weeks to research and train their robots, built completely with LEGO Mindstorm robot kits.

FIRST is fronting 560 qualifying tournaments, 116 championship tournaments and three open championships, including more than 198,000 participants in 19,800 teams in 55 countries of the world this year.

More information about FIRST LEGO League is available at www.utfll.utah.edu and www.usfirst.org.