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Robots Invade Anchorage - Popularity of Robotics League Continues to Increase


Juneau, AK (December 9, 2011) — On Saturday, December 10, Anchorage will host three different FIRST® Robotics tournaments on a single day, a sign of the growing the popularity of robotics as a teaching and learning tool. All three tournaments are part of the new qualifier system for FIRST robotics in Alaska, and lead into Championship tournaments held in January through March.  This weekend, community members are encouraged to come see what all the fuss is about. 

Saturday's events will be held at Bartlett High School from 9 AM - 5 PM, Begich Middle School from 9 AM - 3 PM, and the IBEW Local 1547 Hall from 9 AM - 5 PM. 

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) was founded by inventor Dean Kamen in 1989 to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology. FIRST in Alaska began with a single high school FRC team at South High School nearly 12 years ago. This year, in Anchorage alone, there are over 400 students from 8 high schools and 27 middle/elementary schools participating in the program. Across the state, there are 78 FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) (high school) teams and 148 FIRST LEGO League (FLL - elementary/middle) teams.

At Bartlett High School, 23 teams will compete in this year's "Bowled Over" challenge in which the object of the game will be to design and build robots robust enough to push a bowling ball uphill, yet sophisticated enough to pick up racquetballs and place them into crates, and then stack the crates to score points. The final 30 seconds of the driver-controlled period is called the end game, where each Alliance, consisting of two opposing teams is challenged to push their bowling ball into their “home zones” to score additional bonus points. 

At Begich and the IBEW Hall, kids ages 9-14 will take on the FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL®) “Food Factor®” Challenge. To successfully complete the Challenge, teams of young people, ages 9-14, must conduct research and build and program a LEGO®MINDSTORMSâ robot to explore the ways in which food can become contaminated – from exposure to insects and creatures, to unsterile processing and transportation, to unsanitary preparation and unsafe storage – and then propose real-world solutions for preventing or combating these contaminates. Through hands-on experience and working in teams, children have a chance to explore a real-world issue to gain an appreciation for and interest in science and technology.

“Developing skills in young people in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) allows them to be better prepared for a technology-dependent society and ever more complex issues.  Furthermore, the competitiveness of firms and our economy depend on our ability to innovate and transform ideas into reality.  Programs like FLL provide opportunities and motivation to develop these skills,” says Brian Holst, Executive Director of the Juneau Economic Development Council (JEDC).

FIRST activities in Alaska are coordinated by the Juneau Economic Development Council’s SpringBoard program. For more information on attending an event or volunteering with FIRST, contact Becca Parks: 907- 523-2334, or rparks@jedc.org.

JEDC thanks BP for their generous contributions to FIRST and other STEM programs around Alaska.  

For 2011-2012 FIRST tournament schedules and team listings, visit FLLAlaska.com.

For more information about the Juneau Economic Development Council, SpringBoard or the FIRST program, visit jedc.orggospringboard.orgstemak.org, or contact Becca Parks:  907-523-2334, or rparks@jedc.org.

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