-Milestone season set to be biggest ever with 135,000 children in 40 countries exploring robotic solutions to climate conditions-
Manchester, NH – As concern for the global environment increases, FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), a not-for-profit organization founded by inventor Dean Kamen to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology, is turning to 135,000 children, ages 9 to 14, in 40 countries to explore robotics solutions through hands-on, minds-on teamwork revolving around the 10th Anniversary FIRST LEGO® League (FLL) Challenge: “Climate Connections.”
To ensure that the tenth FLL season will be one to remember, FIRST worked with the U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, professors at MIT and University of Massachusetts, Amherst and experts from LEGO Education, to develop a theme and challenge missions reflective of the hurdles that scientists experience relative to climate study, an issue that has significant and immediate impact on every person on the globe.
“For 10 years, our annual challenges have put kids in the driver’s seat to explore and test solutions in a fun and engaging way. We have been fascinated by the enthusiasm, passion, and creativity our kids have demonstrated in rising to the challenges,” said Dean Kamen. “Our world faces many issues for the future, so why not give kids real-world problems to solve now?”
“Climate Connections” challenges teams of children, ages 9 to 14, to use robotics to unite communities in the research and study of a global atmospheric phenomenon: the climate. The Challenge goal is for teams to program their robots to learn about past climates, delve into questions about our current climate and explore conditions for the future through missions including: connecting research resources, minimizing climatic influences, polar experiments, sequestering greenhouse gases, studying wildlife, preparing for climatic conditions and gathering communities of people.
“‘Climate Connections’ gives kids a hands-on, real-world experience allowing them to use their imaginations and creativity in combination with science and technology. It provides a process whereby they work together to experience first-hand the challenges that even the top scientists face surrounding this broad and important topic, Kamen continued. “As a result, FLL kids develop the curiosity, creative problem-solving skills, and confidence they need to face tomorrow’s challenges. FLL kids are what our society needs, to build the workforce of the future in an increasingly competitive global marketplace.”
The tenth FLL season will engage more teams than ever before, with more than 135,000 children in 40 countries competing in hundreds of qualifying events and Championship Tournaments to win honors and the chance to participate at the FIRST LEGO League World Festival, to be held in conjunction with the FIRST Championship, April 16-18, 2009 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.When the program launched in 1998, there were 200 children in the United States participating.
In conjunction with the 2008 season Kickoff, FIRST LEGO League will launch its redesigned Website at www.FIRSTLEGOLeague.org. The site establishes a fun and inviting, global, online community where users can learn about the FLL program, see season schedules, register teams, create a Team Site, or join in on a Forum. Teams will also be able to upload avatars, files, and photos all while communicating with others in their own team, in their country, or with other international teams in several languages.
FLL is an international program for 9 to 14 year-old children created in a partnership between FIRST and The LEGO Group in 1998 to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology. Each September, FLL announces the annual challenge to teams, engaging them in authentic scientific
research and hands-on robotics design. Using LEGO MINDSTORMS technologies and play materials, children work alongside adult mentors to design, build, and program robots to solve real-world challenges.
After eight intense weeks, the competition season culminates at high-energy, sports-like tournaments. “FIRST LEGO League provides a fun and engaging experience for children around the world to stretch their imaginations, creativity and problem solving skills,” said Jens Maibom, vice president, LEGO Group.
“Using a real-world issue to drive a process where children are in control provides them with a chance to take what they learn and apply it to their own lives, not only during this Challenge, but to their future adventures and endeavors.”
FIRST will continue to offer the Junior FIRST LEGO League (Jr.FLL) program. Now in its fifth year, Jr.FLL is geared towards teams of 6 to 9 year-olds, introducing them to the wonders of science and technology through traditional, open-ended LEGO building with a mini-challenge based on the annual FLL project.
More About Robotics
Accomplished inventor Dean Kamen founded FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. Based in Manchester, N.H., FIRST designs accessible, innovative programs to build self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills while motivating young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology and engineering. With the support of many of the world’s most well-known companies, the not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST Robotics Competition and FIRST Tech Challenge for high-school students, FIRST LEGO® League for children 9-14 years old, and the Junior FIRST LEGO League for 6 to 9 year olds. To learn more about FIRST, go to www.usfirst.org. To learn more about the “Climate Connections” Challenge, go to www.FIRSTLEGOLeague.org.
About the LEGO Group
LEGO Systems Inc. (LSI) is the Americas (North America and Latin America) division of the LEGO Group, a privatelyheld firm based in Billund, Denmark. The LEGO Group is committed to the development of children’s creative and imaginative abilities through high-quality, creatively educational play materials, and its employees are guided by the motto adopted in the 1930s by founder Ole Kirk Christiansen: “Only the best is good enough.” For more information, visit www.LEGO.com
LEGO and the LEGO logo are trademarks of The LEGO Group. © 2008 The LEGO Group.