Sunday, January 21, 2007

Yesterday I was a volunteer judge at the Northern California First LEGO League Championship Tournament. First LEGO League creates a challenge every year for kids, ages 9-14. They have to use the LEGO Mindstorms design kit to create a robot that will do certain tasks in a timed competition with other kids. In addition, they do research on a related topic. For example, this year's theme was nanotechnology. Other year's themes have included a mission to mars, Arctic exploration and oceanic research. Next year's theme will be alternative energy.

This is the second year I've been a volunteer at this event and it was very interesting both years. It's great to see the enthusiastic kids talking about science and their experiences designing and using the robots. Last year, I helped judge the research projects and this year I helped judge robot design. Next year, I'll try to be either a teamwork judge or a competition referee so I can see more aspects of the overall event.

Doing the judging means that we are not on the competition floor but I try to find a break in the day to watch some of the competition as well. It actually feels like a sporting event on the competition floor, with kids rushing back and forth around the competition table and MC's giving play by plays on the table action.

Highly recommended if you have kids of the right age or if you are interested in promoting science/technology to the next generation.

Amazon link to LEGO Mindstorms NXT

No comments: