The U is inspiring thousands of kids across the state to become innovators and pursue careers in science, engineering, and business through the Utah FIRST LEGO League program. Now in its third year, more than 2,000 kids statewide, ages 9-14, will form teams to build and program LEGO robots to compete on thematic playing fields. They also will prepare innovation projects—experiencing what it’s like to be an inventor. The global initiative is based in Manchester, N.H., and organizations like the U sponsor the program for individual states. Volunteers—U students, faculty, staff, and administrators—along with other community partners, use their passion for science and technology to make it fun and exciting for the kids.
One volunteer is Dave Johnson, a research associate in the School of Computing who has served on the organizing committee and hosts an annual summer camp for kids interested in LEGO robotics. Kirsten Butcher, an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Psychology has volunteered to be an event judge and hopes to use FIRST LEGO League in a National Science Foundation research project about teaching kids the advanced skills they will need to succeed in the future. Youth Education also runs a wide number of LEGO robotic summer camps helping team members expand their skills.
The Utah season culminates in qualifier events across the state and a championship at the U on Saturday, Jan. 26, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in the Olpin Union Ballroom. The event is free and open to the public. Watch a video from the 2012 LEGO League championship, and learn more about the program here.