This is Atlanta with Alicia Steele
FIRST Lego League
The robot invasion has hit Atlanta! Fortunately for us, the invaders are small and made of Legos.
FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is a nonprofit organization founded by inventor Dean Kamen to promote interest in science and engineering among young people.
FIRST has sponsored robotic competitions for high-school students since 1992, but a technological innovation in the toy market several years later allowed it to challenge and engage even younger engineers.
Lego, the company behind countless childhood building adventures, introduced its Mindstorm product line in 1998. A mini-computer was integrated into Lego’s interlocking brick system, allowing builders to program their creations to perform tasks.
Later releases of the product, the most recent in 2006, have updated the design and technology of Mindstorm.
Shortly after Mindstorm was introduced, FIRST partnered with Lego to create the FIRST Lego League. In FLL, elementary and middle-school students design and build autonomous robots which they program to perform a set number of tasks on a timed course.
In addition to being judged on robot design and performance, they present a research project on a given theme, for instance, nanotechnology.
Here in Atlanta, the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Georgia Tech sponsors a yearly FLL State Tournament. The overall winner goes on to compete at the FLL World Festival at the Georgia Dome.