Thursday, August 2, 2018

FIRST and LEGO Education Ready for Liftoff with Space Challenges

FLL Logo.png
For years now I’ve been a fan of FIRST Lego League.  The FLL teaches kids about robotics and programming in a friendly competitive environment that teaches kids amazing skills that allows those interested in STEAM to expand their horizons.  I’ve even been lucky enough to attend some FLL competitions and they are amazing.  The ability of youngsters to utilize technology is truly incredible.
Now come word that FLL is working on helping kids explore the challenges of liming and traveling through space.  Here is the press release:

― FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), an international, K-12 not-for-profit organization founded to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology, announced that the 2018-2019 FIRST LEGO League and FIRST LEGO League Jr. seasons task students to explore the challenges of living in and traveling through space.

“Each year, FIRST LEGO League Jr. and FIRST LEGO League design real-world challenges that fuel children’s natural curiosity and appetite for discovery,” said Kim Wierman, director of FIRST LEGO League Jr. and FIRST LEGO League at FIRST. “The concepts they are already learning in school are reinforced in fun and playful applications. Space is a topic that sparks curiosity among students of all ages, and over the course of the season, our students will learn the value of teamwork and collaboration that is so essential to modern space travel.”

For the FIRST LEGO League Jr. MISSION MOONSM and FIRST LEGO League INTO ORBITSM Challenges, FIRST collaborated with experts in the fields of aerospace education, astrogeology, human physiology in space, space exploration technology and more. These experts made up the Challenge Advisory Team, which included representatives from European Space Agency, NASA, Buzz Aldrin Space Institute, International Planetarium Society and U.S. Geological Survey, among others. These specialists collaborated with FIRST to create a theme and challenge missions that reflect the physical and social problems associated with long-duration space flight.

Team registration for both programs is now open.

The 2018-2019 MISSION MOON Challenge will reach over 85,000 children, ages 6-10, from 55 countries and help them learn about the Earth’s moon and what is needed to live there.

“Space is exciting because it’s the last frontier that we haven’t explored totally,” said Patrick McQuillan, of the International Planetarium Society, who served as a consultant on the development of the challenge. “In order to explore space, technology has to be developed that doesn’t exist. So that inspires engineers to develop those things to get us to the moon or to Mars to try to live there.”

Each year since 2004, FIRST LEGO League Jr. presents a new and exciting challenge to ignite creativity in young children. This year, while exploring the real-world theme of space, teams will use LEGO® Education WeDo 2.0 to build and program a model that moves, learning basic engineering and programming concepts. They will also illustrate their research through a Show MePoster. Throughout their experience, teams will operate under the signature set of FIRST Core Values, which emphasize discovery, inclusion, innovation and fun.

As part of the annual registration fee, teams receive an exclusive LEGO Education Inspire Set containing 700+ LEGO® bricks and elements teams can use to construct their team model. In this set will also be a yearly model – a rocket for this season – that serves as a starting point for teams.

In the 2018-2019 INTO ORBITSM Challenge, roughly 320,000 children, ages 9 to 16*, from nearly 100 countries will explore how to solve the physical and social problems associated with long-duration space flight, and propose solutions for any issues they identify.

“The universe is almost infinitely large. There are so many possibilities, opportunities, and exciting discoveries waiting for us in the future,” said Danish astronaut Andreas Mogensen, who was among the experts FIRST and LEGO Education consulted in developing the challenges. “And that, to me, is what space exploration is all about:  opening the door and seeing what’s on the other side.”

FIRST LEGO League challenges kids to think like scientists and engineers. During the INTO ORBIT season, teams of up to 10 students will choose and solve a real-world problem in an open-ended project. Teams will also build, test, and program an autonomous robot using LEGO® MINDSTORMS® technology to solve a series of space-themed missions as part of the Robot Game, which include: growing food in space; fighting muscle atrophy in orbit; collecting samples; and more. The exclusive LEGO models that line the field were inspired by the stories and experiences of STEM professionals who represent the many fields and roles needed to send humans to space. Throughout the season, teams will operate under the signature set of FIRSTCore Values, celebrating discovery, innovation, inclusion and fun.

*ages vary by country

FIRST LEGO League Jr. and FIRST LEGO League are two of four international K-12 STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) robotics programs in a Progression of Programs offered by FIRST®.

This season, FIRST LEGO League anticipates over 40,000 teams will compete in more than 1,450 Qualifying and Championship Tournaments globally. Select teams will be invited to participate at two FIRST LEGO League World Festivals, to be held in conjunction with the FIRST Championship, April 17-20, 2019, in Houston, and April 24-27, 2019, in Detroit.

LEGO Education is a founding partner of FIRST LEGO League Jr. and FIRST LEGO League. FIRST LEGO League Jr. receives global support from LEGO Education. FIRST LEGO League is delivered annually through the support of global sponsors LEGO Education, 3M, NI and Rockwell Automation.

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