Press Release


Contact:

Source: Bruce Schafer, Director, OUS Industry Affairs; Office: 503-725-2915; Cell: 503-332-4666
Contact: Cathy Swider, Project Administrator, OUS; Office: 503-725-2920; Cell: 971-219-1020

Youth talents shine at Intel Oregon FIRST LEGO League 2009 Championship Tournaments

Top two teams invited to advance to the World Festival in Atlanta after this weekend’s Championship Tournament

Portland, OR, January 20, 2010: The Oregon University System (OUS) is pleased to announce 6 state champions of the Intel Oregon FIRST LEGO League 2009 Championship Tournaments, presented by Rockwell Collins, who competed on January 16-17, 2010 at Liberty High School in Hillsboro. The statewide competition brought together 120 winning teams to compete with their custom-made robots in two days of competition focused on transportation, or “Smart Moves.”  In December 2009, 320 teams and more than 2,000 students participated in qualifying tournaments in Oregon and SW Washington, and the top-performing 30% from these events participated in this past weekend’s championships. 

Oregon Robotics Tournament & Outreach Program (ORTOP) offers the FIRST LEGO League (FLL) pre-engineering program to help young students begin exploring technical careers at an early age to meet high-tech industry and economic needs. Oregon technology corporations and industry associations collaborate with the OUS, hundreds of volunteers, and major youth organizations to implement the program. Oregon boasts the largest participation per capita in FIRST LEGO Robotics programs in the nation. This weekend’s tournaments showed a great diversity of teams, including girls and boys from home-schools, public schools, private schools, and communities from rural and urban areas across the state and surrounding region.

”Intel enthusiastically supports the FIRST LEGO League program because we are convinced that it stimulates continuing interest in math and science among young people, and talent in those areas is critical to the future success of Intel, Oregon and the national economy,” said Jill Eiland, Northwest region corporate affairs manager for Intel Corporation, the title sponsor of the event.

 First place for the Intel Oregon Champion’s Award, the most prestigious award of the competition, went to two co-champions: the “Nanites” from Access Academy and West Sylvan Middle School in Portland, and the
“Fire Breathing Rubber Duckies” from Village Home Education Resource Center in Beaverton.
This award goes to the team who is strongest in the top 4 categories: robot design, robot performance, the research project, and teamwork. Both champion teams have the opportunity to advance to the FLL World Festival to be held in Atlanta, Georgia this coming April. A past Oregon team went on to win the championship of the World Festival of the FIRST LEGO League Robotics program in 2007. This weekend’s second prize Champion’s Awards went to “Team Um…” also from Village Home Education Resource Center in Beaverton, and “ShocknBots Turbo Boost,” a community team from West Linn. The third place championship was awarded to Catlin Gabel School’s “Team Delta,” and “Program Crackers” from Franklin K-8 school in Corvallis. In addition, Oregon teams walked away this weekend winning many impressive category awards made possible by Oregon companies (see sponsor list on page 2.)

Winning teams were very proud of their accomplishments and excited for what comes next, including their future careers. Tesca Fitzgerald, a 13 year old member of the champion team “Fire Breathing Rubber Duckies” said, “There are many things I can't do alone but working with my teammates we can accomplish anything...being on an FLL team has inspired me to choose computer science for my college major.” Ethan Takla, a team member of the champion “Nanites” said, “Since I started in 4th grade I've learned a lot about programming and public speaking.  FIRST LEGO League has strengthened my commitment to pursue computer science or electronics engineering.”

Each year FLL defines a challenge that drives team activities. In this year's Smart Moves challenge, the 2009 FIRST LEGO League teams embarked on an exploration of transportation, researching how people, places, goods, and services travel in the safest, most streamlined ways possible. Each team researches one mode of transportation, identifying its challenges and possible technical solutions. Both champion teams took innovative approaches to the research theme on transportation this year. The “Fire Breathing Rubber Duckies” focused on how artificial intelligence driven robots and special air purifiers work to stop the transportation of germs at the Veteran’s Affairs hospital, while the “Nanites” focused on the transportation of information and medication during emergencies. 

Each team includes up to 10 students ages 9-14 who are given about 12 weeks to prepare for the tournament, including construction, design, and programming of the robot, and completion of the required scientific research. The teams used off-the-shelf LEGO robotics kits to construct ingenious working robots, which complete as many missions as possible on a 4-foot by 8-foot playing field. The teams also present research projects addressing modes of transportation, discuss technical aspects of their research with judges, and show their ever-important teamwork skills. The weekend tournaments were valuable not only for the teams participants, but also for families who came to watch and admire the ingenious robots built and programmed by the top 9-14 year olds, and to participate in fun hands-on robotics activities for viewers sponsored by Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI). 

Bruce Schafer, director of industry affairs for OUS, said, “Many congratulations to the winning teams and all participating teams in this year’s tournament, who have clearly shown us they will be tomorrow’s engineers and innovators. Also, many thanks to Intel and all of our corporate and community sponsors and volunteers who are integral to supporting this valuable and rewarding educational program.”

ORTOP thanks its generous sponsors for this event, including Intel, the title sponsor; Rockwell Collins, the presenting sponsor; RadiSys and TechAmerica, platinum sponsors; Bonneville Power Administration and Performance Health Technology, gold sponsors;  ESCO, IBM, and ONAMI (Oregon Nanoscience & Microtechnologies Institute), silver sponsors; as well as all its supporting community sponsors and volunteers.  This year 20% of our teams received a scholarship to help them get started or to continue their participation. The $25,000 in scholarships was funded by program sponsors, and several scholarships were made possible by a special grant from the MJ Murdock Charitable Trust.

For more information on the program go to: www.ortop.org.

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