Devoted to helping young people discover and develop a passion for innovation, science, engineering and technology, the FIRST Lego League (FLL) program is kicking off its third season in Utah. The season kickoff event for the Utah FLL will take place on Saturday, Sept.8 at 1 p.m. at The Leonardo in Salt Lake City. The event, which is open to the public, will introduce this year’s challenge theme, “Senior Solutions,” to coaches and teams participating in the challenge.
The casual, kid-focused event will feature a program outlining the competition’s Robot Game rules and include speakers Kathy Hajeb, Utah FLL operational partner, and Utah FLL’s head referee, Christopher Thompson, who will explain the competition’s Robot Game missions. In addition, there will be a question-and-answer session and an FLL competition table displaying this year’s game missions.
The University of Utah is the state partner for FIRST LEGO League and the headquarters for the state championship every year.
The 2012 theme, “Senior Solutions,” explores the topic of aging and how it may affect a person’s ability to maintain his or her lifestyle — solving issues like getting around, keeping in touch or staying fit. Teams will research obstacles and then suggest ways to improve the quality of life of the seniors affected.
“What is really inspiring about this program is that it enables kids to work on solving real problems,” said Anne Bastien, program manager for Utah FLL. “Especially with this year’s theme, teams will be researching all about seniors in their community and the challenges they face — one of our goals is to raise awareness of the elderly while raising awareness of our youth’s ability to innovate.”
“This is an opportunity for FLL coaches and teams to come together and celebrate the start of the Senior Solutions season. It’s an especially nice event for new teams and coaches to meet the Utah FLL organizing team and be introduced to the FLL community,” Bastien said. “This will be our first-ever kickoff event, and we are thrilled to be partnering with The Leonardo. For most, this will be the first official exposure they will have to the program, Utah FLL, and for many, their first trip to The Leonardo”
The Utah FLL program has seen exponential growth since its introduction to Utah three years ago, with over 2,000 elementary and middle school children aged 9-14 participating across Utah and an anticipated growth to over 7,000 students in the next several years.
A global robotics and innovation program, FLL gives students the opportunity to solve real-world challenges by building LEGO-based robots to complete tasks on a thematic playing surface using LEGO MINDSTORMS technology and by researching and presenting innovative solutions to problems within an annual themed challenge. FLL teams, guided by their imaginations and adult coaches, discover exciting career possibilities and, through the process, learn to make positive contributions to society.
The Leonardo — a contemporary museum that explores the unexpected ways that science, technology, art and creativity connect — will be the event host and allow attendees to tour the museum for free.
Following the FLL kickoff event will be an information session for the FIRST Tech Challenge, a program similar to FLL geared towards students ages 14-18, hosted by Weber State University. This information session will also be held at The Leonardo.
Learn more at www.utfll.utah.edu.