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tennessee technological university

TTU News

Published: Thu Dec 3, 2009

Displaying creativity and some old-fashioned hard work, hundreds of children will descend on Tennessee Tech University's Memorial Gym Saturday, Dec. 5, for the annual FIRST LEGO League. This year's challenge is to solve real-world community transportation problems using LEGO products and robotics.

Teams of 9- to 14-year-olds from throughout Tennessee will use their ingenuity to identify a problem in the way people, animals, information or other things in their community travel. During the challenge, called “Smart Move,” they'll identify a problem, share it, then use robotics, sensor technology and fresh thinking to solve the problem.

“This is our 10th anniversary. Over the years, thousands of kids have participated in this event,” said Ken Hunter, a TTU associate professor of engineering and tournament director.

“'Smart Move' gives kids a hands-on, real-world experience allowing them to use their imaginations and creativity in combination with science and technology, and lets them experience first-hand the very real and exhilarating struggle that even the leaders and inventors in the world face,” said Dean Kamen, accomplished inventor and founder of FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology).

A total of 49 teams (48 from Tennessee and one from Virginia) made up of 400 children will compete at TTU. Five of the teams are from Cookeville schools. An additional 600 advisers, sponsors and supporters are also expected to attend. Worldwide, a total of 14,600 teams in more than 50 countries and more than 146,000 children are competing. Teams also have the opportunity to participate in the FIRST LEGO League World Festival to be held April 15-17, 2010 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

The public is invited to the free event, which begins at 9 a.m. The awards ceremony is at 4 p.m.

A special guest at this year's Cookeville tournament is Woodie Flowers, FIRST executive advisory board chairman and the Pappalardo Professor Emeritus of mechanical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Flowers helped create MIT's renowned course "Introduction to Design." He also received national recognition in his role as host for the PBS television series Scientific American Frontiers from 1990 to 1993 and received a New England EMMY Award for a special PBS program on design. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. He recently received The Joel and Ruth Spria Outstanding Design Educator Award from ASME, a Public Service Medal from NASA, and a Doctor Honoris Causa from Andreas Bello University in Chile.