Nearly 200 students from across the state of Kansas will descend on Fort Hays State University’s campus Friday for an annual robotics competition.

The 11th annual LEGO Robotics Competition will begin at 10 a.m. Friday in the Memorial Union. The contest is hosted by FHSU’s Science and Mathematics Institute and is a good opportunity for students to combine creative thinking skills with hands-on projects, said project manager Mallory Smith.

“It’s definitely a practical application, and it’s really some technology skills, too, so that’s really good to see,” Smith said. “It’s always so much fun.”

The 195 competitors will represent 16 Kansas schools and organizations. Some of the students have been working all semester to create their machines, which will have the opportunity to compete in five different contests.

Robots will be judged based on their ability to follow a straight line, sort colors, traverse a slalom and clear the field of other objects. A fifth event, and always the most popular, is a Sumo Bots competition, a bot fighting match-up.

Ellis County 4-H students will be among those competing Friday. The four two-person teams have been working on their projects for months, said Susan Schlicthing, 4-H youth development agent.

The students all begin with the same rules and equipment, and it is fun to see how different each team’s robot turns out, she said.

“You will see every shape and size and configuration of robot you can see,” she said.

“It’s a lot of creative thinking, problem solving, teamwork — just so much good comes out of kids participating in this event.”