Thirty-four middle school teams from around the Capital Region, New York state, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Connecticut competed Dec. 9 in the FIRST LEGO® League (FLL) Power Puzzle Challenge at Rensselaer. The global competition has been brought to the region for the third time through a partnership between General Electric (GE) and Rensselaer.
The tournament, supported by nearly 120 GE Volunteers and Rensselaer students, faculty, and staff, put eight weeks of research, design, and programming to the test, giving middle school students from the Northeast the chance to participate at the FLL World Festival at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
Approximately 340 middle school children, ages 9 to 14, are among the record 100,000 students around the world who have risen to the 2007 FLL Power Puzzle Challenge. This year’s Challenge calls for teams to research and present their own creative solutions to one of today’s most critical environmental issues: energy management and conservation.
With missions exploring solar panels on houses, hydro-dams, wind turbines, and planting trees, teams programmed their robots to find sustainable options to meet our planet’s growing energy needs in environmentally sound ways.
The tournament, which has doubled in size since launching in the Capital Region two years ago, is organized by GE Volunteers and Rensselaer’s Center for Initiatives in Pre-College Education (CIPCE), which works with area teachers and students to promote the use of robotics in the classroom.
“This is an opportunity to help students understand the common themes that connect math, science, engineering, and technology, and the nation’s best research universities can and must play a significant role in strengthening these areas of education at the pre-college level,” says Lester Rubenfeld, CIPCE director and professor of mathematical sciences at Rensselaer. “By hosting robotics competitions, assisting teachers, and mentoring students, we can be part of the solution to this critical national challenge. I am so proud of our students who are volunteering their time to show the next generation how much fun math, science, and engineering can be.”
“We’re proud to help students bring technology to life through hands-on programs that can inspire their interests as future scientists and engineers,” said Mark Little, Ph.D. ’82, senior vice president and director, GE Global Research. “The FLL competition brings visibility to real-world technical opportunities and challenges, and we hope to grow the pipeline of professional talent who will drive future innovations in these areas.”
FLL is a partnership between the LEGO Group and FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), which was founded in 1989 by inventor Dean Kamen to motivate young people to pursue careers in science, technology, and engineering. FLL is the middle school component of the FIRST Robotics Competition, an international contest that teams professionals and young people to solve an engineering design problem in a competitive way.
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