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Perot Museum of Nature and Science to Host First Lego League 2012 Championship Robotics Tournament

Odd Bots, Robot Warriors and Owldroid are just of a few of the creative team names for competitors who will take the stage January 12 at The Hockaday School in Dallas for the 5th annual North Texas FIRST LEGO® League Championship Robotics Tournament presented by Lockheed Martin. As the operational partner of FIRST LEGO® League for North Texas, the Perot Museum of Nature and Science is proud to usher in the final competition of the season with the annual robot design competition. The public is invited to view the robotics portion of the tournament with free admission.

With 30 percent more teams participating this year than last year, the FLL Championship Robotics Tournament provides a competitive platform where students, ages 9-14, apply teamwork, and their classroom knowledge of science and technology, to complete a project challenge and compete in mini-tasks, or “missions,” using robots that are individually programmed and built (by each team) out of LEGO®s. This will be the fourth year that the tournament will be held at The Hockaday School located at 11600 Welch Rd., Dallas, 75229.

Developed by FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) — a nonprofit organization founded by inventor Dean Kamen to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology — FIRST LEGO® League teaches real-world problem solving through engineering design and teamwork. In 2008, the Perot Museum became the affiliate and operational partner for the North Texas Region, and coordinates and oversees all FLL events for the North Texas area, including the Championship Robotics Tournament.

“The Perot Museum’s mission is to inspire minds through nature and science,” said Steve Hinkley, vice president of programs, Perot Museum of Nature and Science. “As a former educator, I recognize that children learn best when they overcome challenges through hands-on learning, project design and experimentation. FLL and the Championship Robotics Tournament is a truly educational and fun experience that gives these students the opportunity to view science as a process, rather than merely an end result.”

The Perot Museum works year-round to prepare for the Championship Robotics Tournament – in addition to coordinating, overseeing and executing the six qualifying events leading up to the North Texas tournament – by providing and training 130 volunteers for the tournament, some who serve as judges and referees, assisting with team registration and overseeing and executing event logistics.

Volunteer coaches are coordinated by each team and consist of teachers and staff from participating schools, parents whose children are involved or those involved in community groups who decided to volunteer their time to help during the entire FLL season, including the Championship Robotics Tournament.

Fifty-four teams of hardworking, imaginative and resourceful students will put their critical thinking skills to the test to conquer this year’s project challenge called Senior Solutions. Participants are tasked with solving a problem faced by seniors, 60 years or older, as they age. Teams must select and invite a senior to “partner” with them on the project, identify and research a problem that may help their senior partner, and create an innovative solution that may help seniors stay independent, engaged and connected.

Teams will compete in the robotics portion of the event with the Senior Challenge Game, which consists of several mini-tasks, or “missions,” for the autonomous robot (individually programmed and built by each team) including wood working, bowling and gardening where the robot must get a broken chair to a table, send balls to knock down pins and add plants to a garden, respectively. Teams will score points based on the number of missions they complete within the two-and-a-half minute competition round, which require participants to apply strategic thinking and planning.

In addition to critical thinking and planning, the high-energy competition combines camaraderie, respect for one another and fun. Teams proudly flaunt creative T-shirts that they design specifically for the competition, along with playful hats and buttons to reflect their team spirit, while participant families and spectators are on hand throughout the tournament to cheer and support their favored team.

The detailed schedule for the competition includes team registration from 7 to 8 a.m. with opening ceremonies from 8:30 to 9 a.m. Robot competition is from 9:15 a.m. to noon, with a lunch break from noon to 1 p.m., and robot competitions resuming from 1 to 3:30 p.m. Elimination rounds will be from 3:30 to 4 p.m. with closing ceremonies and awards from 4:30 to 5 p.m.

All participants in the Senior Solutions Challenge will receive a participatory medal and certificate for their hard work and team commitment. In addition, the following awards will be given for specific areas of judging and competition: Champions Award; Inspiration; Teamwork; Gracious Professionalism; Mechanical Design; Programming; Strategy and Innovation; Research; Innovative Solution; Presentation; Robot Performance; Judges’ Award, and Outstanding Volunteer Award.

This year’s Senior Solutions event is presented by Lockheed Martin and hosted The Hockaday School and the Perot Museum of Nature and Science. Supporting sponsors include: Exxon Mobil, Time Warner Cable and Rockwell Collins.

About Lockheed Martin

Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs about 120,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The corporation’s net sales for 2011 were $46.5 billion.

About FIRST LEGO® League (FLL)

FIRST LEGO® League (FLL) is one of four competitive levels designed by FIRST, using LEGO® Mindstorms NXT robotics kids as its platform. Aimed at an international audience of students ages 9 through 14, this competition teaches real-world problem solving through engineering design and teamwork. Beyond the events, FLL also works closely with schools and other youth-based organizations to transform the perception of science and technology—inspiring kids who might not otherwise have found a love for these fields to pursue further studies and career paths in science and technology.

About the Perot Museum of Nature and Science

Accredited by the American Museum Association, the Perot Museum of Nature and Science is a nonprofit educational organization located in Dallas, Texas, with campuses in Victory Park and Fair Park. In support of its mission to inspire minds through nature and science, the Perot Museum delivers exciting, engaging and innovative visitor and outreach experiences through its education, exhibition, and research and collections programming for children, students, teachers, families and life-long learners. The $185 million Victory Park museum, designed by 2005 Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate Thom Mayne and his firm Morphosis Architects, opened its new location to the public December 1, 2012. The Perot Museum is named in honor of Margot and Ross Perot, the result of a $50 million gift made by their five adult children. To learn more about the Perot Museum, please visit perotmuseum.org.

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