2009 FLL Challenge Press Release

FIRST News Release

Dean Kamen Asks the World's Children to Transform Transportation in the FIRST® LEGO® League "Smart Move" Challenge

146,000 children in more than 50 countries design custom robots and explore innovative solutions to issues in modern transportation

Manchester, NH, September 3, 2009 - FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), an organization founded by inventor Dean Kamen to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology, is turning to 146,000 children, ages 9 to 14, in more than 50 countries to explore robotics solutions to issues in modern transportation through hands-on, minds-on teamwork revolving around the 2009 FIRST LEGO® League (FLL) Challenge: "Smart Move." 

"Smart Move" is a two-part Challenge. In the Project phase of the Challenge, teams identify a problem with the way people, animals, information, or things travel in their community, create an innovative solution, and share it outside the team. In the robot game part of the Challenge, teams confront some of today’s transportation safety and efficiency problems and apply robotics, sensor technology, and fresh thinking to solve them. Missions in the Challenge include efficiency planning, object avoidance, climbing steep bridges with no guard rails, passenger transport, and crash tests.

"’Smart Move’ gives kids a hands-on, real-world experience allowing them to use their imaginations and creativity in combination with science and technology, and lets them experience first-hand the very real and exhilarating struggle that even the leaders and inventors in the world face," said Dean Kamen, FIRST founder.  

To ensure that this year’s challenge reflects one of the most relevant topics today, FIRST collaborated with Susan Zielinski at the Center for Advancing Research and Solutions for Society at the University of Michigan; David Doerr, a software development engineer at General Motors Corporation; and Chris Locke, a software engineer for Garmin.

FLL is an international program for 9 to 14 year-old children (10 to 16 outside the U.S. and Canada) created in a partnership between FIRST and The LEGO Group in 1998 based on a common belief that fun and learning go hand-in-hand, and that an inspired mind can accomplish anything. Using LEGO MINDSTORMS® technologies and LEGO play materials, children work alongside adult mentors to design, build and program robots to complete missions based on real-world challenges. After eight intense weeks, the competition season culminates at high-energy, sports-like tournaments.

With an age-appropriate Challenge based on the same theme as FLL, the Junior FIRST LEGO League (Jr.FLL) program introduces 6 to 9 year-olds to the wonders of science and technology as they build models and create a poster depicting their research journey.

"FIRST LEGO League provides a fun and engaging experience for children around the world to become innovators and problem solvers on a very relevant and real topic," said Jens Maibom, vice president, LEGO Group.  "Using a real-world issue to drive a process where children are in control provides them with a chance to take what they learn and apply it to their own lives, not only during this challenge, but also to their future adventures and endeavors."

Currently in its eleventh year, FIRST LEGO League anticipates its biggest season ever, with 14,600 teams in more than 50 countries competing in hundreds of qualifying events and Championship Tournaments. More than 146,000 children will compete to win honors and recognition. Teams will also have the opportunity to participate at the FIRST LEGO League World Festival, to be held in conjunction with the FIRST Championship, April 15-17, 2010 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia. In addition, 9,000 6 to 9 year-olds are expected to participate in Junior FIRST LEGO League this season.

About the LEGO Group
LEGO Systems Inc. (LSI) is the Americas (North America and Latin America) division of the LEGO Group, a privately-held firm based in Billund, Denmark. The LEGO Group is committed to the development of children's creative and imaginative abilities through high-quality, creatively educational play materials, and its employees are guided by the motto adopted in the 1930s by founder Ole Kirk Christiansen:  "Only the best is good enough."  For more information, visit www.LEGO.com

About  FIRST®
Accomplished inventor Dean Kamen founded FIRST (ForInspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) in 1989 toinspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people.Based in Manchester, N.H., FIRST designs accessible, innovativeprograms to build self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills whilemotivating young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology,and engineering. With the support of many of the world’s mostwell-known companies, the not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) and FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) for high-school students, FIRST LEGO® League (FLL) for children 9-14 years old, and Junior FIRST LEGO® League (Jr.FLL) for 6 to 9 year-olds.


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Marian Murphy
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