3…2…1… LEGO!

U of U hosts Utah First Lego League Championship Jan. 29, 2011 to promote science, technology and innovation

What:

The inaugural Utah First Lego League Championship, an innovation and robotics competition designed to inspire kids to pursue educations and careers in science and technology.

When:

8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 29, 2011. Parade of teams begins at 8 a.m. and awards are presented at 4 p.m.

Where:

University of Utah Olpin Union Main Ballroom, 200 S. Central Campus Drive.

Who:

560 kids ages 9-14 will compete in the event from schools across Utah with parents and relatives will be watching the action. 200 volunteers will be helping, including University employees, business leaders and distinguished members of the community.

Jan. 25, 2011 – The first Utah First Lego League (FLL) Championship will kick off at 8 a.m. on Jan. 29, 2011. 560 middle school students, ages 9-14, will be competing in this exciting event, which combines Lego robots, teamwork and an energetic, tournament atmosphere to promote science, technology and innovation.

The Office of Technology Venture Development (Tech Ventures) at the University of Utah is hosting the event to inspire kids to pursue educations and careers in science, engineering, business and related fields. Tech Ventures supports innovation and the pursuit of new ideas as a cornerstone of Utah’s economic future. As a recognized leader at starting companies based on its research, the department is acutely aware of the power of innovation.

“We are very proud to host the state’s First Lego League Championship,” said Kathy Hajeb, FLL operational partner and director at Tech Ventures. “When we started organizing this event last summer, we knew it would be popular, but our expectations have been surpassed. I think that shows how many of our young Utah students are creative problem solvers and enjoy technology challenges. We hope to foster that interest with this program.”

Following the opening ceremony, teams will compete in a series of challenges. The centerpiece will be 56 teams taking turns navigating their robots on thematic playing fields. This year’s tournament theme is “body forward” and will focus on biomedical engineering. Everything the teams do is required to relate to that topic.

Judges award points for successful completion of missions defined to represent bioengineering innovation. While the teams compete, the action will be projected onto large screens as an announcer provides play-by-play for the audience of family, friends and sponsors.

The teams will also compete in numerous other challenges, such as best robot design, best innovation project presentation and best overall teamwork. In addition, participants will be judged on their adherence to the FLL “Core Values,” which include friendly competition and gracious professionalism.

“Imagine the atmosphere at a high school basketball championship – that is the type of atmosphere at the Utah FLL Championship,” Hajeb said. “The tension is high, the team members motivate each other, parents cheer and the spectators watch the scoreboard. It’s a sporting event for the mind.”

Organizing the state’s first FLL Championship is a collaborative effort by the entire community. Volunteer coaches created self-organized teams of up to ten students each. Teams have worked for months to build their robots and program them using Lego Mindstorms technology.

This year’s sponsors for the Utah FLL Championship include Boart Longyear, Northrop Grumman and the University of Utah. The following organizations helped sponsor rookie teams: Boart Longyear, Echelon, PTC, Don Brown, Hill Air Force Base/Ogden Air Logistics Center and the national FLL organization.

The Utah FLL Championship is one of many similar events held across the country and globe every year. This year, 171,000 kids and 54,000 volunteers are expected to compete in FLL competitions around the world. Winners of the state events advance to national and global tournaments.

The University of Utah also hosts the First Robotics Competition (FRC), which is a similar event for high school student and will be held in April.

Media Contacts For This Story

marketing and public relations, Lassonde Entrepreneur Center
Office Phone: 801-587-8811
Email address: thad.kelling@utah.edu