LEGO League tournament features "No Limits" at TTU this Saturday

Hundreds of young people, including Cookeville-area students, will demonstrate ways to help people with different levels of physical disabilities this Saturday at the state’s FIRST LEGO League tournament starting at 9 a.m. in Tennessee Tech University’s Memorial Gym.

For the tournament, middle-school students design, program and build fully autonomous robots using Lego Mindstorms Robotics Invention System to master missions presented by a different challenge each year. Using LEGO building elements, electric motor and sensors, teams build, program, and test their fully autonomous LEGO robot capable of completing various tabletop missions.

“The teams register in May, but they don’t find out what the challenge is until about the first week in October,” said tournament co-director and TTU engineering professor Ken Hunter. “They work furiously for eight to 10 weeks to actually build and program autonomous robots to meet the challenge.”

This year, the “No Limits” challenge addresses helping people with physical disabilities. The robots must perform tasks that would help a person open a gate, play ball, read a bus route sign, feed pets, remove glasses, climb stairs, pick up objects and serve food.

“This year we have about 42 teams for a total of about 350 participants from across the state competing, and we’ve attracted crowds of almost 1,000 kids, coaches and spectators in the last several years we’ve hosted the event,” said Hunter.
Cookeville-area teams participating this year are Avery Trace Middle School and a team sponsored by the Upper Cumberland Development District.

Team members must take on specific roles and responsibilities during the challenge. Judges will grade the teams at the competition on how the robot performs on the table and on how team members work together in their preparations and project presentations.

The tournament is co-sponsored by Tennessee Tech and UT-Battelle.

The public is invited to the free event. For more information, contact Hunter at 372-3175.

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