MSU to Host Fifth Annual FIRST LEGO League Tournament

November 9, 2010

Teams will again be vying for points, the crowd will be cheering at a deafening level, and referees will be shouting to be heard above the din this Saturday on the MSU campus. But this time the venue will not be Spartan Stadium. It will be K-12 students participating in a robotics competition in the IM Circle Building at the corner of West Circle Drive and Kalamazoo Street.

Michigan State University is hosting its fifth annual Spartan Challenge FIRST LEGO League – East Lansing Regional Qualifying Tournament on Saturday, Nov. 13, from 8:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is a multinational, nonprofit organization; the FIRST LEGO League (FLL) is the result of a partnership between FIRST and the LEGO Group.

“We’re trying to make learning science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) as much fun for kids as competing in sports,” said Drew Kim, assistant to the dean for recruitment, scholarship and K-12 outreach in the College of Engineering.

“It is one of our favorite events and what makes it unique is that all of the judges and volunteers are MSU faculty, staff and engineering students invested in our future engineers and scientists. The tournament generates a lot of interest and excitement about the STEM fields for these students while they have fun competing against other teams,” said Kim. “The College of Engineering has been involved with the FIRST LEGO League since its inception, and over the years we have seen a number of these participants go on to become quality scientists and engineers.”

With the help of NXT LEGO MINDSTORM Robotics Invention System kits--which consist of bricks, motors, sensors, gears and software--elementary and middle school students, ages 9 through 14, learn engineering and computer programming principles as they design, build and program fully autonomous robots that are capable of performing specified, theme-related tasks.

Each year, FLL reveals a Challenge that relates to a significant real-world issue. For this year’s Challenge--Body Forward--competitors will explore the cutting-edge world of biomedical engineering to discover innovative ways to repair injuries, overcome genetic predispositions, and maximize the body's potential, with the intended purpose of leading happier and healthier lives.

Students had about 10 weeks to prepare for the competition. Working in teams of up to 10 students and guided by at least one adult coach, they built and programmed an autonomous robot capable of completing a pre-designed mission within 2 minutes and 30 seconds; analyzed, researched, and developed a solution for a specific, assigned problem; and created a clever presentation about their solution to perform in front of a panel of judges.

“The students come up with some amazing ideas for solving the problems and completing the robot missions they are presented with,” said Robert Watson, K-12 robotics program coordinator in the College of Engineering. “During the ten weeks the students spend preparing for this competition, their growth in technical knowledge and their ability to work as a team to research and put together a creative presentation is inspiring.”

During the competition, the teams earn points in four categories: project, robot technical interview, core values, and robot game. The top five teams will advance to the state tournament on December 11 in Flint.

MSU’s FIRST LEGO League teams are supported by a grant from Shell Oil Company through the Shell SITES (Students Interested in Technology, Engineering and Science) Program and the MSU Office of Outreach and Engagement.

About 170 students will compete in 17 teams composed of about 10 individuals each. Spectators are welcome.

The College of Engineering Recruitment, Scholarships, and K-12 Office will sponsor lunch for everyone in attendance.

To learn more about FIRST LEGO League: http://usfirst.org/roboticsprograms/fll/content.aspx

To learn more about the Nov. 13 event: http://www.egr.msu.edu/future-engineer/event/first-lego-league

 

 

SAMPLE MISSIONS FOR ROBOT GAME

MISSION – SPECIAL BONE REPAIR
Some severe fractures, including some cases where bone is missing, can’t be fixed with a cast. But now, biomedical engineers are developing a way to bridge voids of missing bone by introducing special bone growing cells to the area on a material called “scaffolding.” These cells are able to grow new bone in ways our normal healing processes can’t. The mission: insert the bone bridge into the leg. The team then tests the repair by moving the leg so the foot kicks the ball, hopefully scoring a goal. Teams earn up to 15 points for inserting the bone bridge; they earn up to 25 points if a goal is scored.

MISSION – CARDIAC PATCH
Having a hole in your heart is considered a rare condition by some, but if you’re one of the few hundred thousand people with this condition, you’re glad that biomedical engineers are hard at work developing modern solutions for it. One solution is to place special cardiac cells onto a mesh to form new heart tissue that can seal the hole. Presently this patch doesn’t grow as a child’s heart grows, so repeat operations are needed. There’s a challenge for tomorrow’s biomedical engineer! The mission: get the cardiac patch into the heart. If the patch is applied, the team earns 20 points.