Posted: January 17, 2007

Students and their robots explore the tiny but vast world of nanotechnology

(Nanowerk News) Eight weeks of research and design will culminate on Jan. 21 at the SBPLI - LI FIRST LEGO League Tournament where teams of children and mentors will demonstrate their problem-solving skills, creative thinking, teamwork, competitive play, sportsmanship and sense of community. Among the participants are 9- to 14-year-old children from 35 elementary and middle schools on Long Island. This action-packed event is free and open to the public. The Tournament will take place at Longwood High School on Sunday, Jan. 21 from 12 pm to 4 pm and marks the Third Annual LEGO League Tournament on Long Island.
Founded by inventor Dean Kamen, FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) was created to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology. FLL is an international program created in a partnership between FIRST and the LEGO Group in 1998 based on their common belief that fun and learning go hand-in-hand, and that an inspired mind can accomplish anything. Each September, FIRST announces the annual Challenge to teams, engaging them in authentic scientific research and hands-on robotics design. Using LEGO MINDSTORMS® bricks, motors, gears and software, children work alongside adult mentors to design, build, and program robots to solve real-world challenges. This year, teams have the option to use LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT, the next generation robotics toolset launched in August. With new and improved technologies and programming software, NXT will take FIRST LEGO League challenges to new levels in years to come.
This year’s challenge calls for teams to research and present their own creative applications of nanotechnology to improve people’s lives. The FLL competition is judged in four areas: project presentation; robot performance; technical design and programming of the robot; and teamwork. The highest honor will go to the team that best exemplifies the spirit and values of the program. Every participant will receive a medallion to commemorate his/her experience and dedication to the eight-week process.
FIRST collaborated with the University of Notre Dame’s Center for Nano Science & Technology and the Cornell University Nanobiotechnology Center to help shape a theme and challenge missions that reflect the amazing solutionsthis newest frontier of science and technology can make possible. They include manipulation of individual atoms, clothes that never get dirty, an elevator to outer space, and cures for disease. “Every FIRST LEGO League challenge helps students discover how imagination and creativity combined with science and technology can solve real-world problems,” says Dean Kamen, FIRST founder. “This year’s focus on nanotechnology introduces them to a new frontier of science and technology."
FLL’s eighth year is also its biggest season, with over 8,100 teams –more than 80,000 students – from 34 countries. The winner of the SBPLI Championship Tournament will have the opportunity to participate at the FIRST LEGO League World Festival, to be held April 12-14, 2007 at The Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia.
Fred Breithut, founder and chairman of School-Business Partnership of Long Island said: “We are pleased to coordinate the Long Island FIRST LEGO League Tournament. It is an extension of the FIRST Robotics Competition. Together these programs are opening a world of technology, science, and engineering to so many Long Island students, helping to build our high tech workforce of the future.”
“It is fitting that Brookhaven Lab and Battelle are sponsoring this tournament, which focuses on nanotechnology. Brookhaven’s Center for Functional Nanomaterials will provide scientists with state-of-the-art facilities to study materials at nanoscale dimensions,” said Emilio Mendez, director of the Center for Functional Nanomaterials at Brookhaven Lab. “ We encourage young people to explore nanotechnology, which offers exciting opportunities for solving some of the problems in the 21st Century – from finding alternatives for fossil fuels to diagnosing and curing diseases with atom-sized probes that would be able to travel throughout the human body.”
Source: Brookhaven National Laboratory