Intel Corporation plans to sponsor the 2008 FIRST LEGO® League (FLL) Climate Connections Challenge taking place at Rensselaer. The announcement was made during a press conference held on Nov. 11 at the Bruggeman Conference Center in the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies.
The global competition scheduled for Dec. 6 puts eight weeks of research, design, and programming to the test, giving local middle school students an opportunity to understand the common themes that connect science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Intel has donated $30,000 that will help to cover costs and plans to award scholarships to eight teams to offset the costs of participating in the competition.
“Intel has a strong history of supporting educational initiatives like the FIRST LEGO® League,” said Robert Richardson, education manager for Intel Massachusetts. “Intel has sponsored other LEGO League competitions across the country and when we heard about the competition at RPI, we wanted to step in and do our part to ensure that these scientists of the future had an opportunity to compete and share their talents.”
“We are honored to establish this new collaboration with Intel and the opportunities that it presents,” said Eddie Ade Knowles, vice president for student life. “In order for the United States to remain competitive in a vibrant global innovation and research environment, it must have access to the best minds, and all of us must get engaged in the effort to excite, encourage, and prepare young people to pursue careers in STEM fields. The annual FLL competition is one of a number of K-12 pipeline programs across campus that build upon the Institute’s traditional strengths to foster innovations in interactive learning, educational technologies, and teacher education.
Area children are among the record 135,000 children in 40 countries competing in hundreds of qualifying events and championship tournaments. This year’s theme, “Climate Connections,” challenges teams of children ages 9 to 14 to use robotics to unite communities in the research and study of a global atmospheric phenomenon: the climate.
The challenge encourages teams to program their robots to learn about past climates, delve into questions about the world’s current climate, and explore conditions for the future through missions including: connecting research resources, minimizing climatic influences, polar experiments, sequestering greenhouse gases, studying wildlife, preparing for climatic conditions, and gathering communities of people.
“LEGO Robotics, and other interactive technologies, is the stuff that engulfs 21st century youngsters. The support given to annual tournaments coordinated by Rensselaer’s Center for Initiatives in Pre-College Education (CIPCE) stresses the importance of this technology in the lives of K-12 students,” said Lester Rubenfeld, CIPCE director and professor of mathematical sciences. “These types of activities provide a mechanism for Rensselaer, through its undergraduates, to impact the lives of hundreds of young people. We truly appreciate the support that Intel will be providing for this year’s tournament, and look forward to continuing and strengthening this important relationship. ”
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