RoboNautica II FIRST LEGO League Tournament Slated for December

Worcester Polytechnic Institute to Host State FIRST LEGO League Tournament

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Contact: WPI Media Relations, 508-831-5616

Worcester, Mass.-- Several thousand LEGO pieces and several hundred youngsters will come together for RoboNautica II, a FIRST LEGO League state tournament, scheduled for Saturday, December 14 on the campus of Worcester Polytechnic Institute beginning at 9 a.m.

FIRST LEGO League is a program for children aged 9 through 14. Using LEGO Mindstorms technology, teams of seven to 10 members build a robot and compete in friendly events designed especially for their age group. They use LEGO "elements" such as bricks, sensors, motors and gears, and gain hands-on experience in engineering and computer programming principles as they construct and program their unique inventions. This year's mission challenge is "City Sights," incorporating elements of urban planning. In addition to designing and programming the competition robots, teams conduct a researc project in which each designs a solution, using robotics technology, to meet the needs of city inhabitants. Then the teams create a presentation of findings and conclusions.

"During a 10-week season, each team develops its own strategy to solve that year's 'challenge.' Then they design and build a robot based on that strategy. Tournaments such as RoboNautica II give the kids a chance to learn just how successful their creations are, and how many different and clever solutions there can be. Of course, they have a great time too," said FLL Coach Michael Sherman, WPI's art director and one of the organizers of the event. "Many of the kids involved with the FIRST LEGO League go on to become involved in the FIRST Robotics program at the high school and college level. They also come back as mentors to FLL teams. It is such a great program for kids to learn not only about science and technology, but about teamwork and problem-solving as well."

While the tournaments decide who built the best robot, their true purpose is to recognize and celebrate those achievements of the team that are far more important than how many points were scored. Awards are given for excellence in teamwork, creative thinking, design skills, overcoming obstacles, communication, research, and leadership among others. The most prestigious award is the Director's Award given to the team that best demonstrates respect, encouragement, and continued gracious professionalism in the heat of competition, both in and out of the arena. The event will be a family-oriented event, and admission is free of charge. More information about the tournament, including directions to the WPI campus can be found at http://www.wpi.edu/News/Events/Robonautica/