Thousands of Utah middle school students, ages 9-14, enter the LEGO robotic tournament season this month. Teams are participating in the Utah FIRST LEGO League program, which kicked off in September and concludes this month, when teams go head-to-head in 14 regional qualifying tournaments across Utah on Jan. 5 and 12. Winners advance to the state championship at the University of Utah on Jan. 26. All events are open to the public.
“The FIRST LEGO League program has seen tremendous growth in Utah in a short amount of time, and we are thrilled to enter our third tournament season,” says Kathy Hajeb, FLL operational partner and executive director at the University of Utah Office of Technology Venture Development. “Every year, I am thoroughly impressed by what these students are able to accomplish. We are so grateful for our community partnerships that bring these fun and exciting events to children across the state of Utah.”
This year’s tournament theme is Senior Solutions and will focus on helping improve the quality of life for seniors. Everything teams do relates to this central topic. So, during the competition, teams must complete missions with their robots that represent issues that seniors face, and teams must prepare innovation projects that identify and solve problems relevant to seniors.
The Utah FIRST LEGO League program is headquartered at the University of Utah in the Office of Technology Venture Development. The university sponsors the event to promote creativity and an interest in technology, innovation and engineering among Utah kids.
During each of the championship and qualifying tournaments, the center stage consists of teams taking turns running their robots through a variety of challenges on thematic playing fields. But the robots are only part of the FLL events. The teams also compete for robot design, innovation project presentation and “Core Values” awards. FLL “Core Values” include “friendly competition” and “gracious professionalism.”
More information and event times and locations are available at www.utfll.utah.edu.