Dean Kamen Introduces Children Worldwide to the World of Biomedical Engineering in the FIRST LEGO League Body Forward Challenge

FIRST News Release 

Dean Kamen Introduces Children Worldwide to the World of Biomedical Engineering in the FIRST® LEGO® League "Body Forward®" Challenge

171,000 children in more than 50 countries design custom LEGO robots and develop innovative solutions to build healthier, stronger bodies 


Manchester, NH (September 7, 2010) - FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), an organization founded by inventor Dean Kamen, is engaging 171,000 children, ages 9 to 14, in more than 50 countries to explore the exciting world of Biomedical Engineering through hands-on, minds-on teamwork in the 2010 FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL®) Challenge called "Body Forward®."  

"Body Forward" is a two-part robotics challenge that requires research to complete the project phase, and science and engineering to master the complex missions of the robot game phase. In the project phase, teams will research a body part, function, or system; create an innovative solution to protect, repair, heal, or improve it; and share their solution(s) with the global community. In the robot game phase, teams will confront some of today’s medical issues and apply robotics, sensor technology, and ingenuity to solve them. Robot missions in the FLL Challenge range from the familiar, including bone repair, rapid blood screening, and pace makers, to the futuristic, such as nerve mapping, bionic eyes, and object control through thought. The robots, designed by the children and built using LEGO MINDSTORMS® technologies, will require a variety of mechanical capabilities to accomplish the missions set forth in the Challenge.

"Every FIRST LEGO League Challenge of the last eleven years has helped children discover how imagination and creativity combined with science and technology can solve real-world problems," said Dean Kamen, FIRST founder. "With medical issues impacting each and every one of us in our lifetime, we will need a new generation of innovators to build on the miracles of modern medicine and ensure future advances in healthcare, for us and for themselves. This year’s focus on Biomedical Engineering introduces these young scientists to an exciting field that is virtually exploding with possibilities."

"Body Forward" was developed with the input of Biomedical Engineering experts to provide a practical and realistic challenge project and robot missions. This year’s Challenge Advisory Team included:

  • Scott Cummings, Prosthetist and Orthotist, Next Step Prosthetics and Orthotics;
  • Dr. Lisa Freed, Senior Technical Member, Draper Laboratory - Biomedical Engineering Group;
  • Dr. Marie Johnson, Director, University of Minnesota - Center for Medical Devices; and
  • Dr. Tom Skalak, Chairman and Professor, University of Virginia - Department of Biomedical Engineering.

"FIRST LEGO League provides a fun and engaging experience for children around the world to become innovators and creative problem solvers on a very relevant and real topic," said Jacob Kragh, vice president, LEGO Group. "Using a real-world issue to drive a process where children are in control empowers 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 twelfth year, FIRST LEGO League anticipates its biggest season ever, with more than 17,000 teams in more than 50 countries competing in hundreds of Qualifying Tournaments and Championship Tournaments. More than 170,000 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 27-30, 2011 at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis. In addition, more than 10,000 6 to 9 year-olds are expected to participate in Junior FIRST LEGO League this season.

Background on FIRST® LEGO® League  (FLL®) and Junior FIRST® LEGO® League (Jr.FLLT)

FIRST LEGO League (FLL) is an international program for 9 to 14 year-old children (9 to 16 outside the U.S. and Canada) created in a partnership between FIRST and The LEGO Group in 1998 to get children excited about science and technology - and teach them valuable employment and life skills. Using LEGO MINDSTORMS technologies and LEGO Education materials, children work alongside adult mentors to design, build, and program autonomous robots and create an innovative solution to a problem as part of their research project. After eight intense weeks, the competition season culminates at high-energy, sports-like tournaments. Like any other organized "sport," teams also fundraise, create a team identity, and go on field trips.

With an age-appropriate challenge based on the same theme as that of the FIRST LEGO League, the Junior FIRST® LEGO® League (Jr.FLLT) 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. Teams may showcase their successes at locally-organized events.

Research has shown that FIRST LEGO League provides positive impacts on participants, including:

  • increased interest in and understanding of science and technology; improved attitudes towards education; and improved life and workplace-related skills;
  • offers the kinds of experiences recommended by research on positive youth development, such as opportunities for skill building; youth decision-making and responsibility; and integration of family, school, and community; and
  • through their involvement in FLL, participants also apply Core Values and learn to make positive contributions to society.

More details are available in the "Evaluation of the 2008 FIRST LEGO League Program" Executive Summary prepared by the Center for Youth and Communities, Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University.

About FIRST®

Accomplished inventor Dean Kamen founded FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. Based in Manchester, N.H., FIRST designs accessible, innovative programs to build self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills while motivating young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology, and engineering. With support from three out of every five Fortune 500 companies and more than $12 million in college scholarships, 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 9 to 14-year-olds, (9 to 16-year-olds outside the U.S. and Canada) and Junior FIRST® LEGO® League (Jr.FLLT) for 6 to 9-year-olds. Gracious ProfessionalismT is a way of doing things that encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community. To learn more about FIRST, go to www.usfirst.org

About the LEGO Group

The LEGO Group is 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.

 

Media Contact: 

Marian Murphy
FIRST Communications Manager
603-666-3906, ext. 409 .