A LEGO tournament really is providing the building blocks for engineering success.

The first leg of an international Lego tournament is underway at Energus, Lillyhall.

And is seeing children aged nine to 16 compete to harness their problem solving skills, to programme robots - and work together.

Schools from west and north Cumbria yesterday took part in a space themed challenge, which will continue today.

The competition encourages innovation and communication with marks awarded for a robot game, project and core values.

Fran Ward, a director of C-STEM Ltd, first organised an event three years ago, with just seven teams. That year Ennerdale and Kinniside school went to the national finals in Bristol.In the second year 23 teams took part, increasing to 43 in the third year and this year nearly 70 teams have entered.

Robin Bell, with Assystem, was judging the robot design.

He said: “There has been an exceptional standard, even the most experienced teams are learning something from the new ones. The event is definitely worthwhile to encourage an engineering path.”

Next year Mr Ward would like the event to take place over three days, with around 100 teams entering, which will increase the chances of a Cumbrian school getting to the world finals in America.

He said: “It would be a dream come true if we have a Cumbrian winner.”

Businesses and organisations sponsor teams with entry costs, funding for robots and travel costs. Mr Ward said: “REACT Foundation have been very helpful and instrumental in supporting C-STEM and getting the word out to schools and businesses in the area.”

Pete Woolaghan, chairman of REACT Foundation, said: “It is the robotics and autonomous system technology for the future. It is no different to what they’re doing on Mars, using WiFi programs to power robots. The skill set is the same. It is undiluted fun.”

Angela Smith was at the competition with the LEGO legends team from Hensingham Primary.

It was their first time and they said it was amazing, they had worked together to solve problems, had found some of the challenges tricky, but fun. Four teams from Cumbria from the two day competition will go through to the next stage.

Other contributors to the event include Sellafield, LLWR and Sir John Fisher Foundation.