Time Warner Cable is this year’s primary sponsor and is funding the event as part of their Connect a Million Minds initiative to address the nation’s declining proficiency in science, technology, engineering and math.
“As a company founded on innovation, we share a commitment with Maine Robotics to inspiring today’s students to become the scientists, innovators and problem solvers of tomorrow,” said Paul S. Schonewolf, area vice president, Time Warner Cable.
Additional First Lego League supporters this year include Robotics Institute of Maine, the University of Maine, College of Engineering in Orono and the University of Southern Maine.
The annual FLL championship is the largest science and engineering education event in Maine. This year’s event will feature 70 teams of children ages 9 to 14, who have been practicing, building and researching their robots in preparation for the championship. The Maine Discovery Museum and the Owls Head Transportation Museum will both have activities setup for kids; there will be a computer lab setup for an Hour Of Code, sponsored by Project>Login; and short classes will be available during the day on how to start up programs in your school or community.
This year’s theme in the International Competition is Nature’s Fury and involves each team picking a community and a natural disaster to research. Teams can pick from hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, severe storms, flooding, tornadoes, tsunamis and earthquakes. Then the team has to reach out and learn about what happens in their chosen community as it prepares for, lives through and cleans up after the natural disaster. And finally, they have to come up with some ideas on how to make it better!
Partnering with Maine Robotics to bring youth and emergency management professionals and resources together are the Maine Emergency Management Agency, the American Red Cross, Central Maine Power and the University of Maine Cooperative Extension 4-H program.
The teams have also been building and programming Lego robots to compete on a playing field where they will need to rescue people and get them to safety, deliver supplies, trim around power lines (made of Legos), as well as other missions. The robots can only be handled in home base on the playing field and the robots are programmed on computers to run out of home base, complete missions and return to home base.
Also at the event in the North Wing will be the Central Maine VEX Robotics Tournament. This program, offered by the Robotics Institute of Maine, is for high school students who have built VEX robots and will feature head to head robot competitions on the 12’ x 12’ field as well as judging in technical areas around the team robots.
Maine Robotics, a Maine-based non-profit venture, has been bringing hands-on science and technology activities to Maine schools and children since 2004. The organization uses robotic competitions and summer camps to educate children from the 1st grade through high school. Robotics is a multi-disciplinary topic that touches on engineering, basic science, computers, programming, mathematics, problem solving and project design and management.