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Jenny Golder and Camille Schroeder, Engineering, (515) 294-9965
Bridget Bailey, ISU News Service, (515) 294-6881


AMES, Iowa -- LEGO-built robots once again will fill the atrium of Howe Hall. Iowa State University's College of Engineering Tech Know Program and the ASEE Student Chapter will host a 2002 FIRST LEGO League Challenge (FLL), 8 a.m.--5p.m., Saturday, Dec. 14.

The goal of the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) LEGO robot competition is to motivate middle school students to pursue opportunities in science, technology and engineering, and to foster problem-solving and teamwork skills. The FLL tournament at Iowa State is part of one of the nation's largest science competitions with more than 26,000 students ages 9-14 expected to compete in 30 U.S. cities.

Teams of up to 10 students build a robot with LEGOs and program it to perform specific functions in an obstacle course. Robots use light and touch sensors to gather input from their environment and to interact with the environment independently. Students also prepare a presentation and are interviewed by a judging panel.

The 2002 challenge, called "City Sights," explores some of the obstacles, restrictions and challenges that urban planners face in order to provide basic services such as housing, clean water, mass transportation and communications. 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. Robots will perform such tasks as harvesting food to deliver to market, repairing a bridge deck that has been ripped up by the wind, cleaning up toxic waste, delivering construction materials, servicing a windmill by getting it to spin, and removing rocks from a soccer field.

Fifteen teams will be competing in the ISU tournament including those from Newton, Ottumwa, DeSoto, Pella, Ames, Cedar Rapids, Otley, Sumner, and Elwood, Neb. It is the second time ISU has hosted the competition.


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 or Camille Schroeder at (515) 294-9965, or email Howe Hall is on the west side of the ISU campus, south of the College of Design building and west of Marston Hall.

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