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Jenny Golder, Engineering, (515) 572-4864
Skip Derra, News Service, (515) 294-4917


AMES, Iowa -- LEGO-built robots will do battle in the atrium of Howe Hall at Iowa State University, 9 a.m., Saturday, Dec. 8, in the inaugural Iowa competition of the FIRST LEGO League. The competition will be among six Iowa middle schools -- two from Ames and four from Cedar Rapids.

The teams, with 10 students each, will attempt to have their robot traverse an Arctic- themed obstacle course. The robots will perform a series of tasks ranging from rescuing scientists to recovering an ice core and retrieving medical supplies.

In addition, the surface on which the robots will operate will have "cracks." The robots will be pre-programmed to perform their tasks.

"The robots will have light sensors and rotation sensors so they can see the floor, move about safely and sense where there are cracks in the ice to stay away from dangerous areas," said Jenny Golder, an ISU student who is organizing the event. "It all means that the robots, and what they do, will require a pretty high level of sophistication."

The Iowa teams competing at Howe Hall include two from Ames Middle School and one each from Wilson Elementary, Wright School, Pierce Elementary, and Home School Family, all of Cedar Rapids, Golder said.

Each team of students (5th through 8th graders) has worked on their robots for eight weeks. The teams developed their robots with the Arctic theme in mind. The challenge is designed to emulate a real-world event or situation for which the team must research, plan, build, program and test a fully autonomous robot.

Developed in collaboration with LEGO Co., Billund, Denmark, the FIRST LEGO League is a robotics tournament for children ages 9-14 that combines hands-on, science-based challenges in a tournament setting. Each team is partnered with engineers, companies and universities. Several states in the U.S. hold FIRST LEGO League competitions.


Reporters are welcome to cover the FIRST LEGO League competition this Saturday. Portions of the competition will be very visual as the robots work their courses and complete their tasks. Events begin at 9 a.m. For an agenda of the event and to determine which ones are most visual, please contact Jenny Golder, (515) 572-4864, or jenbkr@iastate.edu. Howe Hall is located on the west side of the ISU campus, directly south of the College of Design building and west of Marston Hall.

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