The Art Outreach Gallery, located at the Eastwood Mall in Niles, will host the 2009 rookie FIRST LEGO League (FLL) robotics team as part of its effort to become a central Hub of educational robotics activity within the community.
The gallery is calling for schools throughout the Mahoning Valley to start new FLL teams of their own. Extensive training resources are available online at fll.neofra.com, and schools can apply for grant funding that will fully cover the cost of participation in the team's rookie year or contact Gail Stark at the gallery at 330-219-7833 for more details.
The 2009 FLL Challenge transportation-based theme, "Smart Move," will be unveiled online on Sept. 3. FLL introduces a new game challenge each year that centers on a current science and technology theme. Examples of past challenge themes include Mars exploration, nanotechnology, and alternative energy research.
As part of the yearly competition, teams of up to 10 students use the LEGO Mindstorms NXT robotics system to design and build a robot to execute a series of theme-based "missions." The robot scores points by autonomously-navigating a four- by eight-foot playing field and successfully interacting with LEGO mission models. Teams also score points by researching the central topic theme throughout the season and delivering a presentation of their findings to competition judges.
FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology - www.usfirst.org) is a non-profit organization whose innovative middle and high school competitive robotics programs "motivate young people to pursue education and career opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math, while building self-confidence, knowledge and life skills." FIRST LEGO League is FIRST's international robotics program for children ages 9-14.
The Art Gallery team is actively seeking volunteer mentors. Volunteer FLL coaching and mentoring positions are available to motivated individuals who wish to join existing teams or start new ones. FLL is open to middle schools, Boy Scout troops, home school groups, and many other organizations.
FLL coaches should ideally possess some or all of the following abilities:
l Effective communication skills;
l Solid organization and multi-tasking skills;
l Patience to work alongside middle school students and keep them working as a team, focused on team goals;
l Ability to encourage students to develop problem-solving skills, critical thinking, and a structured robot design approach;
l Ability to teach and guide without doing - students are responsible for the creation of all robot and research content.
Mentors do not need prior technical expertise to volunteer, but such skills are a plus.
2009 FLL team registration is now open and will continue through the end of September, until all open registration slots are filled. Visit fll.neofra.com for more information on how to register a team.
The Art Outreach Gallery, the National Packard Museum, and the Trumbull County Educational Service Center are the sponsors for FIRST LEGO League Hub.
The Art Outreach Gallery is located in the concourse between Macy's and J.C. Penney's and is open from 5 to 9 p .m. Fridays, from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturdays and from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays.