Thousands of Utah middle school students, ages 9-14, are competing in Utah FIRST LEGO League tournaments across the state in January, 2015. Students participate in the program by building robots and inventing new ideas to explore the classroom of the future in this year’s theme, World Class. Teams worked all fall to prepare LEGO robots and project presentations for regional competitions on Jan. 3, 10 and 17 and the state championship at the University of Utah on Jan. 31. All events are open to the public.
Utah’s FIRST LEGO League program is headquartered at the University of Utah’s Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute, an interdisciplinary division of the David Eccles School of Business. The Lassonde Institute organizes the program to promote an interest in innovation and entrepreneurship among Utah children.
“The students that compete in FIRST LEGO League are our future inventors, scientists and business leaders,” says Anne Bastien, the Utah operational partner for FIRST LEGO League and a program manager at the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute. “Through this program, they learn how to solve challenging real-world problems using creativity and teamwork. They also gain the motivation to pursue a meaningful education and career path.”
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 “what we learn is more important than what we win” and “gracious professionalism.”
This year’s theme of World Class allows students to explore the future of learning. Students work on teams to redesign how we gather knowledge and skills in the 21st century. Teams then teach adults about the ways that kids need and want to learn. Each team prepares an innovative solution and presents it at the competitions.
Sponsors for the current season include: the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute, Utah STEM Action Center, Boart Longyear, Utah 4H, Williams, Utah Education Network, Lund Foundation, Verizon, Utah Education Savings Plan, IMFlash, Northrop Grumman, Gary and Nancy Schmitt, Val Antczak, Steve Borst.