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News & Events

11-26-2007

Students from 14 St. Lawrence and Lewis County School Districts to Compete in FIRST Robot Challenges Friday and Saturday

Students from over a dozen Saint Lawrence and Lewis county schools will compete in robotics challenges for two different age groups of students this Friday and Saturday at Clarkson University.

Middle-school students have been tasked with the challenge and excitement of designing and building an original robot in the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Tech Challenge, this Friday, November 30, at Clarkson University's Walker Arena from 2 to 9 p.m.

Robots of fourth- to sixth-graders will compete in the FIRST Lego League Power Puzzle Challenge on Saturday, December 1, at Walker Arena from 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

Both events are free and open to the public.

Saturday's FIRST Lego League Power Puzzle Challenge calls for teams to research and present their own creative solutions to one of today's most critical environmental issues: energy management and conservation. Eight weeks of research and design will culminate when teams of children and mentors demonstrate their problem-solving skills, creative thinking, teamwork, competitive play, sportsmanship, and sense of community. With missions exploring solar panels on houses, hydro-dams, wind turbines and planting trees, teams will have to program their robots to find sustainable options to meet our planet's growing energy needs in environmentally sound ways.

Contests like First Robotics, and others like Science Olympiad and Mathcounts, represent one of the fundamental aims of the St. Lawrence STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) Partnership grant in giving teachers and their students a new enthusiasm for their studies in math and science, says Peter Turner, Clarkson chair of Mathematics and Computer Science, and principal investigator for the STEM Partnership grant. "The partnership between Clarkson and the St. Lawrence-Lewis BOCES has been very important in providing the resources and opportunities for our local students and we are delighted to support them."

Turner and Susan Powers, associate dean of Clarkson's Coulter School of Engineering, are co-directors of the Office of Educational Partnerships, which coordinates the University's activities in these programs.

Funded in part by a $75,000 New York State Education Department Summer Training for Teachers in Engineers of the Future Program grant, Clarkson Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor and FIRST SPEED team faculty advisor James Carroll lead a workshop this past July to train local teachers in how to design and build robots in their classrooms, as well as successfully coach a FIRST Tech Challenge team. "Robotics is a broad and highly interdisciplinary field that makes an ideal platform to motivate young people to pursue STEM careers in ways that are crucial to our nation's ability to maintain its standard of living and leadership in world affairs," says Carroll.

Participating in the FIRST Tech Challenge are Brasher Falls, Colton-Pierrepont, Edwards-Knox, Gouverneur, Harrisville, Hermon-Dekalb, Madrid-Waddington, Massena, Norwood-Norfolk, Ogdensburg City, Parishville-Hopkinton, and Potsdam school districts, and the St. Lawrence-Lewis BOCES Seaway Tech Center.

First Lego League teams are from Brasher Falls Central School, Canton Jefferson Elementary School, Colton-Pierrepont Central School, Edwards-Knox Central School, Harrisville Central School, Ogdensburg Kennedy Elementary School, Lisbon Central School, Massena Madison Elementary School, Massena Nightengale Elementary School, Norwood-Norfolk Central School, Parishville-Hopkinton Central School, Potsdam Lawrence Ave Elementary School, Potsdam Little River Community School, and Massena Trinity Catholic School.

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, and Junior FIRST LEGO League. To learn more about FIRST, go to http://www.usfirst.org.

FIRST Robotics is part of Clarkson University's SPEED program, one of the Wallace H. Coulter School of Engineering hallmark initiatives, exemplifying Clarkson's "defy convention" approach to education. SPEED promotes multidisciplinary, project-based learning opportunities for more than 350 undergraduates annually. Projects involve engineering design, analysis, and fabrication. In addition, students learn real-world business skills, such as budget management, effective teamwork, and communications skills. SPEED receives its primary financial support from the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation with contributions from ExxonMobil, Turner Construction Company and the New York Power Authority. For more information on the Clarkson FIRST team, visit http://www.team229.org.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Michael P. Griffin, director of News & Digital Content Services, at 315-268-6716 or mgriffin@clarkson.edu.]

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