All-girls Lego League team first from St. Paul schools to compete in national tournament

Since fourth grade, Yasreen Benlhabib has spent a couple of afternoons a week building autonomous robots out of plastic bricks.

Now she and the rest of the Lego Llamas will be able to showcase their skills on the national stage.

"It's really exciting because we haven't been to one before and it's new for St. Paul. So our team is really excited to go to a national competition," said Benlhabib.

While competing at the Lego League state championships last month, the team from Capitol Hill Magnet School qualified for a trip to the Florida Sunshine Invitational.

School officials say it's the first time a team from St. Paul Public Schools has made it to a national tournament, where they will face off against teams from around the world.

(FOX 9)

"It is so exciting and wonderful that they get this opportunity. And I think it's fun too that they just get to enjoy the success beyond just getting a trophy. They get to do something fun," said Vergene Downs, Gifted Coordinator at Capitol Hill Magnet School.

School officials say what makes the llamas' success even more remarkable is that the team is made up of five eighth-grade girls, a rarity in an activity that can be a bit of a boys club.

"I think it is different having all girls. I feel like we're heard a lot more by each other, and we don't have to fight to speak, which really improved the experience," said Benlhabib.

Benlhabib hopes the Lego Llamas inspire other girls to follow in their footsteps.

"I really hope we can show that girls can do whatever they want to do whether it is STEM or other fields. Just that they can do it. And I'm especially happy we can show kids from our school, especially younger girls, that they can do it too, and we can be role models for them," said Benlhabib.

The Lego Llamas received a $10,000 grant from the St. Paul and Minnesota Foundation to help pay for their trip to the Sunshine State in June.