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RWU Hosts Nearly 500 at FIRST LEGO League Robotics Tournament

Rep. James Langevin, RWU President Donald Farish kick-off “Food Factor” Challenge; RWU awards $200,000 in scholarships to winning team
The self-named Mindstorms Mayhem team from All Saints Academy in Middletown, R.I. took home top honors at the competition.

Nearly 500 elementary and middle school students competed in the 2012 FIRST LEGO® League “Food Factor” Robotics Tournament, held today on the campus of Roger Williams University. Rep. James R. Langevin (D-R.I.) and RWU President Donald J. Farish provided opening remarks for the Rhode Island Challenge, now in its 11th year.

Each member of the winning team, the self-named Mindstorms Mayhem team from All Saints Academy in Middletown, R.I., walked away with not only top honors at the competition, but a four-year RWU scholarship of $5,000 per year – a total of $200,000 in scholarship dollars awarded. This marks the fourth year the University has offered winning scholarship prizes and its sixth year hosting the tournament. Roger Williams was the first organization to offer a college scholarship to a FIRST LEGO League winning team in the international competition’s 13-year history.

During this morning’s opening ceremony, Rep. Langevin encouraged participants to continue their involvement in science, technology, engineering and mathematics studies. “Science and technology change the world; they change lives. Especially now, STEM-related studies are the key to our success as a nation, and it is programs like FIRST LEGO that give our kids the skills needed to make that kind of impact. These young people are the innovators of tomorrow.” 

Fifty-four teams of students ages 9 to 14, from across Rhode Island and nearby Massachusetts, spent the morning presenting robots and research projects to judges and the afternoon on playing fields in points-based robot competitions. The team that excelled in the three judging categories – core values, robot and project – won the Champion’s Award and the tournament. Innovator and entrepreneur Kipp Bradford provided the closing keynote address to encourage students to create innovative solutions to problems they see around them.

Each team focused on this year’s “Food Factor” challenge, exploring how food gets to plates safely and ready to eat, and where along the supply chain food might be contaminated. The 54 teams also met throughout the season to design, build and program a LEGO MINDSTORMS® NXT robot. Along the way, they identified and conducted research on a chosen food safety issue and developed an innovative solution to prevent or address the problem.

 “FIRST LEGO League introduces students to scientists and industry professionals and broadens the students’ concept of what science is,” said FIRST LEGO League Rhode Island Coordinator Mary Johnson. “The competition also encourages students to sharpen their math and science skills while discovering how innovation helps solve problems facing our communities. With Roger Williams University’s continued support and presentation of scholarships, the program is a real investment in our state’s future.”

“The values represented by the FIRST LEGO student teams today match what we stand for here at Roger Williams University,” said RWU President Donald J. Farish, Ph.D., J.D. “Not only does our institution support the notion that more study and work is necessary in the STEM areas, but we also value programs that allow elementary and middle school students to engage their inherent interest and curiosity with the environment they're living in. This is the University’s sixth year hosting the tournament and we are very proud of that.”

FIRST LEGO League is an international competition for elementary and middle school children featuring an annual real-world challenge that engages them in authentic scientific research and hands-on robotics design using LEGO MINDSTORMS® technologies and play materials. Roger Williams University has hosted the annual Rhode Island FLL Championship Tournament on its campus since 2006. The Rhode Island FIRST LEGO League program is supported locally by dozens of corporations and community organizations.

About RWU: Roger Williams University located in Bristol, R.I. is a leading independent, coeducational liberal arts university with education for the professions, where students learn to be global citizens. With 42 academic programs, an array of co-curricular activities and study abroad opportunities on six continents, RWU is committed to its mantra of learning to bridge the world. In the last decade, the University has achieved unprecedented successes including recognition as one of the best colleges in the nation by Forbes, College of Distinction by Student Horizons, Inc. and as both a best college in the Northeast and one of the nation’s greenest universities by The Princeton Review.

About FIRST: 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 for children 9-14 years old, and the Junior FIRST LEGO League for 6 to 9 year olds. To learn more about FIRST, go to www.usfirst.org. To learn more about the “Food Factor” Challenge, go to www.FIRSTLEGOLeague.org.