Kansas City (January 9, 2012) – One of the largest annual robotics tournaments in the Midwest comes to Kansas City this Saturday, Jan. 14 as Time Warner Cable and KC STEM Alliance present the FIRST LEGO League Regional Championship at Union Station (30 W. Pershing Rd., Kansas City, MO). The competition will kick off Saturday with an opening ceremony at 9 a.m. in the Sprint Festival Plaza and is open to the public with no admission fee.
Saturday’s event will feature 35 teams comprised of 350 elementary and middle school students from Kansas and Missouri. One of the 35 teams will be declared the winner and advance to the FIRST World Festival in St. Louis in April, which will feature robotics teams from more than 50 countries.
In FIRST LEGO League competitions, students are introduced to real-world engineering challenges to help them learn critical thinking, team-building and presentation skills. Each team designs, builds and programs their own LEGO Mindstorms NXT robot and then must maneuver their robot through a maze of obstacles to complete various missions.
The theme of this year’s competition is the Food Factor Challenge, and the teams’ robotics missions will focus on finding solutions to food contamination challenges. In addition to the robotics portion of the competition, students are also required to present a report which shares the findings of their research on the topic of food contamination.
By designing each year’s challenges around such topics, participants are exposed to potential career paths that solidify the science, technology, engineering and match (STEM) principles that naturally come from participating in a robotics program. Students also learn valuable life and employment skills that will benefit them no matter what career path that they eventually choose.
“By studying robotics, kids are able to get a big-picture view for how the world around them works, as well as how things are invented,” said Paul Borchardt, FIRST regional program director. “Events like this challenge students and show them that science, technology, engineering and math are more than just what they learn in the classroom – it’s also about solving real-world problems, and the exciting atmosphere of these competitions really allows kids to discover science and technology in a whole new way.”
A total of 107 teams took part in a series of regional qualifiers in 2011, with the top 35 teams advancing to Saturday’s regional championship. In addition to competing for a spot in April’s FIRST World Festival, teams will also have the chance to win awards in categories such as teamwork, programming, design, research, innovation and creativity at Saturday’s event. Teams can also earn recognition for fulfilling the core values of FIRST, which include gracious professionalism and “coopertition,” which encourages teams to display unqualified kindness and respect in the face of fierce competition.
FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is a national partner with Connect a Million Minds (CAMM), an initiative of Time Warner Cable. CAMM’s goal is to connect one million young minds to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) through after school programs such as those offered by FIRST robotics. FIRST programs in the Greater Kansas City region are managed by KC STEM Alliance, a non-profit organization supports local K-12 STEM education and programs.
“Our partnership with FIRST LEGO League has helped us make young people aware of the excitement and possibilities of STEM,” said Scott Miller, Time Warner Cable’s area Vice President of Operations. “STEM education is crucial for our area students and for our country as a whole, and we are proud to do our part to help nurture the next generation of scientific leaders.”
Here is the full schedule of events for Saturday’s FIRST LEGO League Regional Championship:
9 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. – Opening Ceremony
10:15 a.m. – 11:10 a.m.. – FIRST LEGO League Competition
11:45a.m. - 12:30a.m. – FIRST LEGO League Competition
2:20 p.m. – 3:20 p.m. – FIRST LEGO League Competition
4:15 p.m. – 4:45 p.m. – Awards Ceremony
*Note – media members covering Saturday’s event should enter through Union Station’s main entrance on the south side of the building
In conjunction with Saturday’s FIRST LEGO League robotics event, Science City at Union Station will be offering full day passes for only $5 per person, 50% off the regular price. For more information on Science City visit their website at www.sciencecity.com.
About KC STEM Alliance and FIRST
The KC STEM Alliance is a collaborative network of educators, business partners and organizations that inspires interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math careers to generate a robust force of related professionals for our community. The non-profit organization supports local K-12 STEM education and programs, and oversees FIRST programs for the Greater Kansas City region. Dean Kamen founded FIRST in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. 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.FLL) for 6 to 9-year-olds. For more information, please visit www.kcstem.org.
About Time Warner Cable
Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) is among the largest providers of video, high-speed data and voice services in the United States, connecting more than 14 million customers to entertainment, information and each other. Time Warner Cable Business Class offers data, video, and voice services to businesses of all sizes, cell tower backhaul services to wireless carriers and, through its NaviSite subsidiary, enterprise-class hosting, managed application, messaging and cloud services. Time Warner Cable Media, the advertising arm of Time Warner Cable, offers national, regional and local companies innovative advertising solutions. More information about the services of Time Warner Cable is available at www.timewarnercable.com, www.twcbc.com, www.navisite.com, and www.twcmedia.com.