FIRST LEGO League Ohio State championship tournament

Published 10 January 2008

FIRST LEGO will hold its annual robotic tournament this weekend on the campus of Ohio’s Wright State University; 48 teams of 9-14 year-olds will compete on research projects, teamwork, robot design, robot programming, and robot performance

The United States is losing its preeminence in science and technology to countries such as China because these other countries invest vastly — vastly — more than the United States does in science and math education and training. These countries also harness the power and resources of their central government on behalf of education, while the United States is still wedded to the notion that education is a local responsibility. It would be one thing for China to graduate more engineers than the United States does, but what has a more pernicious long-term effect on U.S. scientific standing and national security is the fact that more patents are now being awarded each year to Chinese nationals relative to patents awarded to U.S. citizens. Perhaps all is not lost, though. Forty-eight teams representing some of the best and brightest students from across the country will compete at the FIRST LEGO League Ohio State Championship Tournament (FLL) at the Nutter Center, on the campus of Wright State University, on 12-13 January. The Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Educational Outreach Office cosponsors the annual event which brings together nine to fourteen year-olds to demonstrate their engineering and problem-solving skills, critical thinking, teamwork, sportsmanship, and sense of community. On 12 January teams will participate in closed-door judging, where they will meet with three panels of judges who evaluate their research project, teamwork, robot design, robot programming, and performance. Judging is not open to the public. On 13 January robot table competitions will run on the main floor of the Nutter Center from 9:00 a.m until noon. This portion of the competition is free and open to the public.

The Air Force Research Laboratory has been affiliated with FIRST LEGO since 2001 when it became lead organization for the Ohio’s state program. Air Force leaders said they recognize the importance of developing enthusiasm for math and science among young people, said Kathy Schweinfurth, director of Base Educational Outreach.

Inventor Dean Kamen founded FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) to inspire young people’s interest in science and technology. Since 1988 FIRST and LEGO Group have partnered to challenge teams who use LEGO bricks, motors, gears, and software to design and build robots to solve real-world engineering challenges. Each September FIRST announces the annual challenge to student teams around the world. More than 90,000 students from more than thirty countries are competing in this year’s qualifying events and championship tournaments, according to U.S. FIRST. Note that along with the FLL Ohio State Championship, a Junior FIRST LEGO Expo, a design and build program for small teams of children between the ages of six and nine, will also be held. Seven Ohio teams from around the state will show off their Power Puzzle solutions through models and research posters. The FLL Ohio State Championship and the FLL Wright State University Regional are sponsored by Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Educational Outreach; the Wright State University College of Engineering and Computer Science; the Ohio Educational Outreach Foundation; Battelle, Dayton Operations; American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Dayton Section; and Universal Technology Corporation.