A very small subject has hundreds of 9 to 14-year-olds roaming the campus of Iowa State University today, as Ames is invaded by contestants for the annual LEGO science challenge. Organizer Camille Sloan Schroeder says the topic is "Nano Quest" and the kids building self-powered robots are envisioning their use in projects the size of a molecule or two.

It’s open to the public free of charge today, with "tons of engineering and science-related activities." Though the subjects are microscopic, the competition draws a huge crowd of participants from Iowa and Nebraska. Schroeder says the kids have been studying nanotechnology and learning about it since the season began in September.

She says everyone’s encouraged to attend and learn something. This is the 9th year of the LEGO League competition, and Schroeder says some of the first kids to come through are now old enough to be choosing high-school and college courses of study in science and technology.