Robotics competition tackles local community biomedical needs

300 middle and high school students descend on Acadia's campus January 29 for province-wide robotics competition


Acadia University's War Memorial Gymnasium will be host to the sixth annual province-wide student robot programming competitions on January 29, 2011. Started in 2005, the competitions now engage more than three hundred students, ages 9 to Grade 12, in two separate levels of competition, the junior high FIRST LEGO League (FLL) and the High School Robot Competition (HRC).

"These challenges are meant to introduce students to the fun and experience of working together to solve real-world problems by applying math, science, engineering, and technology skills," says Dr. Daniel Silver, Director of the Jodrey School of Computer Science at Acadia University. "It's essential that Nova Scotians develop science skills at home. More and more, technology is looked at as something that is created somewhere else, and that doesn't bode well for the future. This competition hopes to offset that and encourage young people to pursue education and a career in science because it's fun and worthwhile."

The 5th annual FIRST LEGO® League (FLL) Body Forward Challenge will feature 24 teams of junior high students ages 9-14.  To successfully complete the Challenge, teams must build and program a LEGO MINDSTORMSâ robot to explore the best way to fix medical issues. With missions including exploring how to insert and test a bone bridge, get rid of  bad cells, insert a cardiac patch, and install a pacemaker, teams will have to program their robots to explore the growing questions around biomedical engineering.

"Body Forward 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 top leaders and inventors in the world face," said Dean Kamen, FIRST founder. 

Each September, FIRST LEGO League announces the annual Challenge to teams, engaging them in authentic scientific research and hands-on robotics design. Using LEGO MINDSTORMS® technologies and LEGO play materials, children work alongside adult mentors to design, build, and program robots to complete missions based on real-world challenges. After 4 intense months, the competition season culminates at high-energy, sports-like tournaments. This year, FIRST is offering to pay for a patent for the top team's patentable idea. This year there are 9,698 FLL teams competing worldwide. According to their research, FIRST participants are 50% more likely to attend college, twice as likely to major in science or engineering and three times as likely to major specifically in engineering. The FLL world championship will be held in St. Louis in April.

Major sponsors for this year's FLL competition include Michelin North America (Canada) Inc., Encana and the Nova Scotia Department of Labour and Workforce Development.

"Michelin is proud to play an active role in the community and we are thrilled to sponsor the FIRST LEGO ® League event at Acadia," says Dennis Langille, Technical Manager of the Michelin Waterville facility. "Our business relies on innovation and discovery through science and technology, and we believe the FLL is an excellent way to inspire children to be curious, to explore new ideas and to be innovative."

The 6th Acadia High School Robot Programming Competition (grades 10 to 12), will feature 12 high school student teams competing to build and program robots to complete timed challenges, such as traveling salesman line-tracking, complex maze navigation, and object removal.  These challenges, developed at Acadia, require ingenuity of robot design, use of various sensors and the design and development of sophisticated software.  The faster and smarter the robots are at completing the tasks, the more points for the teams. These high school teams use the same LEGO MINDSTORMS® technologies but often employ more advanced programming and engineering methods.  Previous competitions have demonstrated the creativity of Nova Scotia high school students and their skills in using math, engineering and computer science principals.

The competitions are judged in four areas: project presentation; robot performance; technical design and programming of the robot; and teamwork. The highest honour will go to the team that best exemplifies the spirit and values of the program.

The Competitions run from 1 p.m. until 7 p.m. on Saturday, January 29 at Acadia University's War Memorial Gymnasium and the event is free to the public. For more information, visit http://cs.acadiau.ca/rpc/

 Acadia University, in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, has long been recognized as one of Canada's premier undergraduate institutions. With its nationally and internationally recognized research initiatives, small classes and technology-rich teaching and learning environment, Acadia offers students an experience that includes academic achievement combined with personal growth and development. For more information about Acadia, visit our website at http://www.acadiau.ca/ .

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Contact information:

Karen Wilder

RPC Director

902-585-1105

rpc-director@acadiau.ca

Backgrounder: Robot Programming Competition at Acadia

 

FIRST LEGO® League (FLL)

The 5th annual FIRST LEGO® League (FLL) Body Forward Challenge will feature 24 teams of junior high students ages 9-14.  To successfully complete the Challenge, teams must build and program a LEGO MINDSTORMSâ robot to explore the best way to fix medical issues. With missions including exploring how to insert and test a bone bridge, get rid of  bad cells, insert a cardiac patch, and install a pacemaker, teams will have to program their robots to explore the growing questions around biomedical engineering.

Each September, FIRST LEGO League announces the annual Challenge to teams, engaging them in authentic scientific research and hands-on robotics design. Using LEGO MINDSTORMS® technologies and LEGO play materials, children work alongside adult mentors to design, build, and program robots to complete missions based on real-world challenges. After 4 intense months, the competition season culminates at high-energy, sports-like tournaments. This year, FIRST is offering to pay for a patent for the top team's patentable idea. The FIRST organization involves over 150,000 students world-wide in all levels of competition.

Beginning this year, the dispersed FLL competitions held at Nova Scotia Community College campuses have become qualifying competitions, so each FIRST LEGO League team is required to participate in a qualifier in their area to be eligible for the championship.  The top four teams from each qualifier, plus limited wildcard teams are eligible to come to the Acadia championship. Qualifying competitions were held in Bridgewater on Nov. 19 and in Truro, Middleton, Halifax and Yarmouth on Nov. 27, 2010.

High School Robot Competition

The 6th Acadia High School Robot Programming Competition (grades 10 to 12), will feature 12 high school student teams competing to build and program robots to complete timed challenges, such as traveling salesman line-tracking, complex maze navigation, and object removal.  These challenges, developed at Acadia, require ingenuity of robot design, use of various sensors and the design and development of sophisticated software.  The faster and smarter the robots are at completing the tasks, the more points for the teams. Trophies are awarded for different areas of Robot Performance, Robot Design and Teamwork and for top scorers overall.

The teams of four to six members come from schools across the province.

 

SPONSORS

Platinum sponsors are: Acadia University, Nova Scotia Community College, Michelin North America (Canada), Nova Scotia Labour & Workforce Development, NSERC and Encana.

Gold sponsors are: EastLink, and RIM.

Silver sponsors are: NSBI, Lockheed Martin, RBC and AVR/Magic 94.9.

Bronze sponsors are Bell Aliant and Nova Scotia Economic Development.

Other sponsors include the Acadia University Office of Industry and Community Engagement and ABB Robotics

ABOUT FIRST

Accomplished inventor Dean Kamen founded FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. Based in Manchester, N.H., FIRST designs accessible, innovative programs to build self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills while motivating young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology, and engineering. With the support of many of the world's most well-known companies, the not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST Robotics Competition and FIRST Tech Challenge for high-school students, FIRST LEGO League for children 9-14 years old, and Junior FIRST LEGO League for 6 to 9 year-olds. To learn more about FIRST, go to www.usfirst.org. To learn more about the "Smart Moves"" Challenge, go to http://www.usfirst.org/roboticsprograms/fll/smartmove1.aspx

ABOUT THE LEGO GROUP

LEGO Systems Inc. (LSI) is the Americas (North America and Latin America) division of The LEGO Group, a privately-held firm based in Billund, Denmark. The LEGO Group is committed to the development of children's creative and imaginative abilities through high-quality, creatively educational play materials, and its employees are guided by the motto adopted in the 1930s by founder Ole Kirk Christiansen:  "Only the best is good enough."  For more information, visit www.LEGO.com LEGO and the LEGO logo are trademarks of The LEGO Group. © 2007 The LEGO Group.

ABOUT RPC AT ACADIA

The January 29, 2011 competitions are open to the public beginning at 1:00 PM in War Memorial Gymnasium.  In addition to the competitions, the NovaLUG group will feature great ball contraptions made from LEGO, the Resource Recovery Fund Board will demonstrate their robot and ABB Robotics will offer access for spectators to control their robot.

More information is available at:  http://cs.acadiau.ca/rpc or by contacting Karen Wilder at rpc-director@acadiau.ca

 


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