Eighty-four elementary and middle school robotics teams from Massachusetts and Jamaica will compete in the 13th Annual FIRST LEGO League (FLL) RoboNautica competition, to be held at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI). This year's theme is "Nature's Fury," which will challenge the teams to discover what can be done when intense natural disasters impact the places people live, work, and play. During the day they will present their research and innovative solutions to judges. This is a regional championship event. More than 360 Massachusetts teams competed to earn a spot at RoboNautica. The winner of the RoboNautica completion at WPI will advance to the FLL World Festival in April.
Some sample robot tasks might include removing tree branches that could fall on electrical wires, getting an ambulance or water to people in need, and lifting a house to avoid flood waters.
Saturday, Dec. 21, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Harrington Auditorium, WPI campus, 100 Institute Road, Worcester, Mass.
"The FIRST LEGO League program not only exposes kids to robotics and engineering, but it inspires them to learn about a variety of careers in STEM fields through each year's theme," said Colleen Shaver, assistant director of the WPI Robotics Resource Center. "In order to complete their research project—a required portion to advance to this championship—teams must talk to experts in the field as they identify problems and potential solutions. This opportunity to learn about career paths and the FLL Core Values is truly what makes this program unique and inspiring to our local youth."
FIRST, which stands for "For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology," was created by WPI alumnus Dean Kamen. FIRST LEGO League is an international program for children, ages 9 to 14, created in a partnership between FIRST and the LEGO company. Each August, FLL announces the annual Challenge, which engages the teams in hands-on robotics design and authentic scientific research. After eight intense weeks, the FLL season culminates at high-energy, sports-like tournaments like RoboNautica.