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AMES, Iowa  —  Fifteen years ago just a handful of kids took part in the First Lego League Championship at Iowa State University.

On Saturday morning, more than 750 kids making up over 60 teams took over ISU’s College of Engineering.

Kids compete against each other to build Lego robots that complete simulated animal rescue tasks, including transporting a shark, milking a cow, and releasing a panda into the wild.

Organizers credit the statewide stem initiative for fueling the popularity, in addition to word of mouth.

“First Lego League is super fun and kids like having fun when they learn And they learn more when they’re having fun, so I think there’s that, but the kids talk to each other about how cool it is and it grows,” says Camille Sloan Schroeder of Iowa State University.

Approximately 40% of participants in the Lego League are girls, a number that is double the percentage of women involved in engineering nationwide.