Statewide LEGO Robotics Competitions Open to Spectators

For the past four months, over 1,000 students across Alaska have been building robots – LEGO robots. Fifty-three of those teams will convene at South High School on Saturday, January 21 for the Alaska Invitational Championship for the FIRST LEGO League. Spectators are encouraged to come and cheer on the teams and their robots. Thanks largely to the generous support of BP in Alaska, FIRST programs are able to reach even more kids across the state. Teams from communities from Metlakatla to Chefornak will be traveling for the event.

Saturday’s tournament activities include judging sessions and practice matches in the morning and match competition in the afternoon. The competition is open to the public free of charge, beginning with opening ceremonies at 12:30 PM and wrapping up with an awards ceremony at 4:00 PM.

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) was founded by inventor Dean Kamen in 1989 to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology. FIRST activities in Alaska are coordinated by the Juneau Economic Development Council’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Program.

Since September, teams have been working to meet the 2011 FIRST LEGO League (FLL)  “Food Factor” Challenge. To successfully complete the Challenge, teams of young people, ages 9-14, must conduct research and build and program a LEGO MINDSTORMS robot to explore the ways in which food can become contaminated – from exposure to insects and creatures, to unsterile processing and transportation, to unsanitary preparation and unsafe storage – and then propose real-world solutions for preventing or combating these contaminates. Through hands-on experience and working in teams, children have a chance to explore a real-world issue to gain an appreciation for and interest in science and technology.

FIRST LEGO League teams are judged in four categories: Research Project, Teamwork, Robot Design and Programming, and Robot Performance.

Following November and December Qualifier tournaments in Anchorage, Bethel, Fairbanks, Juneau and Kenai, the FIRST season culminates in Alaska with two championship events: the Anchorage Robot Rendezvous, and Invitational Championship to be held on Saturday, January 21 at South Anchorage High School and the Tanana Valley Robot Rally, an Open Championship in Fairbanks on February 4. Mark your calendar for these and other FIRST events in Alaska in February and March 2012:

Upcoming event dates:

FIRST LEGO League Open Championship: February 4 in Fairbanks
FIRST Tech Challenge Southwest Qualifier: February 6-7 in Bethel
FIRST Tech Challenge Southcentral Qualifier: February 10-11 in Anchorage
FIRST Tech Challenge Southeast Qualifier: February 17-18 in Sitka
FIRST Tech Challenge Fairbanks Qualifier: February 24-25 in Fairbanks
FIRST Tech Challenge State Championship: March 2-3 in Fairbanks

Major funding provided by BP, with additional support from the US Department of Defense, the National Defense Education Program, GCI, Flint Hills, CH2MHill, University of Alaska and Shell.

Additional volunteers are needed for this event as well as all 2012 FIRST activities across the state. Interested individuals should contact Rebecca Parks, statewide coordinator for FIRST LEGO League tournaments in Alaska at: 907-523-2334 or

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The Juneau Economic Development Council fosters a healthy and sustainable economic climate in Juneau and throughout Southeast Alaska. In collaboration with other organizations, the council implements initiatives to maintain, expand, and create economic opportunities.

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