WATERLOO, Ont. (Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2011) - Lego robots, along with creative thinking, problem-solving skills and teamwork, will be in action at the University of Waterloo on Sunday, Dec. 4 as 250 youngsters aged nine to 14 compete in the WE-Connect FIRST League Lego (FLL) Waterloo qualifier, co-sponsored by Waterloo Engineering.

Competing in this year's "Food Factor" challenge, the teams have spent the last eight weeks building and programming Lego Mindstorm robots to accomplish up to 15 missions on a specialized mat. The missions include collecting bacteria and washing them off in a sink, delivering groceries, reversing pollution to protect food and lowering the temperature to keep refrigerated food safe. Teams will also present projects to develop innovative solutions to ensure the safe delivery of food to dinner tables.

The qualifier will be held this coming Sunday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Engineering 5 building on Waterloo's south campus. Admission is free and the public is welcome to attend.

Maud Gorbet, a Waterloo professor of systems design engineering, has coached a local team for three years and for the last four years, as part of WE-Connect Waterloo Engineering Outreach activities, has spearheaded increased local involvement in the program.

"This program is fantastic for kids with science and engineering minds," said Gorbet. "It gives them a chance to sharpen and develop skills including competitive play and sportsmanship. It also provides them with a sense of community."

Competing in the qualifier will be 18 teams from local schools, four from the Greater Toronto Area, two from Brantford, two from Kincardine and two from Oshweken. Five of the teams will advance to a provincial tournament in January. The provincial tournament winners will compete in the First Lego League World Festival to be held in April in St. Louis. In the biggest season ever for the 30-year-old FLL, more than 20,000 teams in over 50 countries are competing in hundreds of qualifying and championship tournaments.

The FLL program offers a unique way for students to enjoy hands-on learning that is fun, open-ended and based on solving real-world problems. Students work as a team with teachers and parents acting as coaches and team mentors. Each year, the response from students has been overwhelming and local schools participating in the event often have more than one team to accommodate as many kids as possible.

This year, Google participated in FLL in the Waterloo Region and hosted weekly drop-in sessions for local teams. "The drop-in sessions provided a great place for the teams to troubleshoot missions and meet new engineering mentors," Gorbet said.

This is the second year in a row that the regional qualifying FLL tournament, sponsored by Waterloo Engineering, Google and the Ontario government, will be held at the University of Waterloo. The teams will be judged for project presentation, robot performance, technical design and programming of the robot, and teamwork. The highest honour will go to the team that best exemplifies the spirit and values of the program.

About FIRST Lego League

FIRST LEGO League (FLL) is an international program for nine to 14 year-old children created in a partnership between FIRST and The LEGO Group in 1998 to get children excited about science and technology - and teach them valuable employment and life skills. Using LEGO MINDSTORMS® technologies and LEGO Education materials, children work alongside adult mentors to design, build and program autonomous robots and create an innovative solution to a problem as part of their research project. After eight intense weeks, the competition season culminates at high-energy, sports-like tournaments. Like any other organized "sport," teams also fundraise, create a team identity and go on field trips.

About Waterloo Engineering

The Faculty of Engineering at the University of Waterloo is ranked among the top 50 engineering schools in the world. It is the largest engineering school in Canada with more than 6,300 undergraduate students, 1,800 graduate students and 280 faculty members. It is home to the University of Waterloo School of Architecture and seven other academic units, which are working to prepare the leaders of tomorrow and address social, technology, business and policy needs through ground-breaking research. More than 33,000 alumni are making their mark in industry, academe and the public sector worldwide. For further information, visit www.engineering.uwaterloo.ca.

Read more

Waterloo News


Contact media relations to learn more about this or other stories.