Iowa State University
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News Service

News Service:

Annette Hacker, director,
(515) 294-3720

Office: (515) 294-4777

1-9-07

Contacts:

Camille Sloan Schroeder, College of Engineering, (515) 294-9965, camilles@iastate.edu

Mike Krapfl, News Service, (515) 294-4917, mkrapfl@iastate.edu

State LEGO championship brings 67 teams to Iowa State

AMES, Iowa -- Hundreds of 9- to 14-year olds will be manipulating atoms, demonstrating stain-resistant fabric, testing the strength of carbon nanotubes, delivering medicine to just the right part of the body and otherwise exploring the frontiers of nanotechnology.

They'll do all that by building and programming LEGO robots designed to complete nine models of scientific missions.

It's all part of the 2006 Iowa FIRST LEGO League Championship. The competition will be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Jan. 20 in Howe and Hoover halls in the College of Engineering on the Iowa State University campus. The competition features teams from around the state, including Ames, Boone, Cedar Falls, Cedar Rapids, Coralville, Davenport, Des Moines, Johnston, Marion, Newton, Ottumwa, Sioux City and Waukee. The event is free and open to the public.

Be prepared to see lots of energy, hear loud cheers and marvel at the mini robots and their young programmers. This is a hands-on competition, after all, not a science lecture. And the prize the teams are all working for is an invitation to the FIRST LEGO League's World Festival in Atlanta this April.

"Yes, it's fun," said Camille Sloan Schroeder, the championship's director and the coordinator of Iowa State Engineering Kids, a College of Engineering program promoting science, technology and engineering to school students. "It's an amazing way to get kids excited about engineering and science."

This year's challenge is dubbed "Nano Quest" and has the competitors learning what happens when you get down to billionths of a meter. One contest mission, for example, calls for teams to figure out how their robots can remove at least one white LEGO piece from a shaky little LEGO table without knocking off any red pieces. The mission is called "Individual Atom Manipulation." The mission's description tells students, "Nanotechnology is about applying science, engineering and work on the 'nano' scale, where measurements range up to about 100 nanometers -- the size of a few molecules -- and where everything is moving and shaking."

This is the sixth year the competition has been on the Iowa State campus, said Sloan Schroeder. More details and schedules are at www.isek.iastate.edu.

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 by The LEGO Group, the Denmark-based toy manufacturer.

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Nano Quest logo

Quick look

The 2006 Iowa FIRST LEGO League Championship will be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Jan. 20 in Howe and Hoover halls on the Iowa State University campus. The competition will attract 67 teams of school students from all over Iowa. Details and schedules are at www.isek.iastate.edu.

Quote

"Yes, it's fun. It's an amazing way to get kids excited about engineering and science."

Camille Sloan Schroeder, the championship's director and the coordinator of Iowa State Engineering Kids, a College of Engineering program promoting science, technology and engineering to school students