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Local middle school students will le'go their robotic creations from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Nov. 16, when the FIRST LEGO League (FLL) competition gets under way at Old Dominion University's Webb Center.

The FLL competition requires students to design and build robots out of the plastic blocks and other elements, such as sensors, motors and gears, to perform specific tasks along a course - like picking fruit from miniature trees and clearing rocks from a miniature soccer field. The students will also be asked to come up with a solution to a particular problem using robotics technology, which meets the needs of city inhabitants. They will then present their research findings and conclusions.

More than 100 students in all will take part in the competition; teams will consist of as many as 10 students. Each team will get four chances for their robot to negotiate the course, and one attempt in the technical and science/research portion of the competition, said Grace Little, event coordinator and assistant director of ODU's Office of Computing and Communications Services.

Contestants from the following organizations and schools will participate: Boys and Girls Clubs of South Hampton Roads; Chesapeake Bay Academy of Virginia Beach; Epes Elementary School in Newport News; South Greenbrier Intermediate from Chesapeake; Hampton's Lindsay Middle School; Gloucester County's Page and Peasley middle schools; Courtland's Southampton Middle; and a group of local home-schooled students. Old Dominion faculty and staff will serve as judges.

The event is free and open to the public.

Winners from the Old Dominion competition move on to the state competition Dec. 8 in Blacksburg.

Each year in September, FLL teams around the world begin work on identical problems, in which they engage in hands-on robotics design and scientific research. After eight weeks, the FLL season culminates at high-energy, sports-like tournaments like the one being held at Old Dominion.

FLL is a worldwide program for children created in partnership between FIRST - For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, a non-profit organization designing accessible, innovative programs to build self-confidence, knowledge and life skills while motivating young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology and engineering - and LEGO Co. Some 2,500 U.S. teams of children ages 9 to 14 registered for competition this year.

More information on FLL is available at http://www.firstlegoleague.org.

This article was posted on: November 13, 2002

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