Annette Hacker, director,
Office: (515) 294-4777
Camille Sloan Schroeder, College of Engineering, (515) 294-9965
Mike Krapfl, News Service, (515) 294-4917
650 to compete in Iowa LEGO tournament
AMES, Iowa -- Their LEGO robots will be deploying a submarine, releasing a dolphin, cleaning up a cargo accident and otherwise showing off some engineering skills.
It all happens when 600 9- to 14-year-olds and 50 6- to 9-year olds compete in the annual State of Iowa FIRST LEGO League Tournament. The tournament will be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Jan. 21 at Iowa State University's College of Engineering. The tournament is free and open to the public.
But don't expect a quiet, serious quiz bowl.
"We call it sports for the mind and that's pretty much exactly what it is," said Camille Sloan Schroeder, who coordinates school programs for Iowa State's College of Engineering and directs the state LEGO tournament.
Kids are cheering. Big screens show all the robot action. The bleachers are full.
"It's a sporting event," Schroeder said. "It's loud."
At stake is a trip to the FIRST LEGO League World Festival in Atlanta's Georgia Dome in late April.
To get there, teams of students have to impress judges. They have to build and program a LEGO robot to complete a series of tasks based on this year's "Ocean Odyssey" theme. They have to research an ocean problem and create an innovative solution. And they have to prepare for interviews focused on the technical design of their robots and on teamwork.
More than 60 teams have registered for the competition, including teams from Ames, Cedar Falls, Cedar Rapids, Davenport, Iowa City, Johnston, Marion, Marshalltown, Ottumwa, Sioux City, Waukee and West Des Moines.
First-time visitors to the tournament usually leave in "shock and awe," Schroeder said. A typical reaction is, "I can't believe they know that."
The tournament will be in Iowa State's Howe and Hoover halls. Events will be contested from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. An information desk will be in Howe Hall.
FIRST LEGO League is an international program created by FIRST, a nonprofit organization based in New Hampshire that's dedicated to inspiring young people to explore science and technology, and The LEGO Group, the Denmark-based toy manufacturer.
Iowa's state LEGO tournament will be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Jan. 21 at Iowa State University's College of Engineering. Young students will demonstrate their engineering, research and teamwork skills and try to win a spot at the world LEGO tournament.
"We call it sports for the mind and that's pretty much exactly what it is."
Camille Sloan Schroeder, the coordinator of school programs for Iowa State's College of Engineering and director of the state LEGO tournament