North Texas Students and Their Robots Explore Climate Challenge in FIRST LEGO® League Tournament Organized by Museum of Nature & Science

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Tournament Inspires Young People to Solve Real-World Problems with Science and Technology; Winning Team to Compete in World Championship in Atlanta

Dozens of teams from local elementary and middle schools will match robots they've built and try to impress judges with their research about the Earth's climate for a chance to compete in an international event. The Museum of Nature & Science organized the FIRST LEGO League (FLL) North Texas Regional Tournament, a free event Jan. 31 from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the University of Texas at Dallas.

The teams of young people built and programmed a LEGO MINDSTORMS(R) robot to explore one of the most challenging topics facing scientists today -- our climate. They have spent the past two months investigating past climates and delving into questions surrounding our current and future climate conditions. About 200 students on 30 teams were challenged with missions that included studying greenhouse gases, wildlife, preparations for climate conditions and gathering communities of people.

"FIRST LEGO League is an exciting and fun global robotics program that ignites an enthusiasm for discovery, science, and technology in kids ages 9 to 14," said Steve Hinkley, director of Education for MNS. "We are delighted to bring the event back to North Texas this year and will continue to support it for future years. Many of our educational programs during our spring and summer Camps, Engineer's Week, Tech Fest and Discovery Days include building and using robots."

In addition to the tournament, graduate students from UTD will demonstrate real-life robotics projects including an SUV, a robotic submarine and robotic devices. UTDrive uses cameras, microphones and data sensors installed on an SUV to monitor driver behavior and distractions. The UT Dallas Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) Team will demonstrate the submarine that won second place in the 2008 International AUV competition in San Diego. The UT Dallas Robotics Society, the most active student group in UTD's Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science, will demonstrate some of the latest devices its members have developed.

ExxonMobil is the title sponsor. Lockheed Martin and Greater Texas Foundation are platinum sponsors of this "sporting event for the mind," which is a program of the nonprofit For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST). The project will culminate with the FLL World Festival at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, April 16-18, 2009.

This year's event is hosted by the University of Texas at Dallas at 800 W. Campbell Road, Richardson, Texas 75080 from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Jan. 31. All Challenge Competition rounds will be held in the main gym in the Activities Center. All Judging rounds will be held in the Engineering/Computer Science South building. Admission is free. Additional information can be found by calling: 214-428-5555, ext. 8, or by visiting: http://www.natureandscience.org, http://www.usfirst.org.

About the Museum of Nature & Science

The Museum of Nature & Science, formerly the Dallas Museum of Natural History, The Science Place and the Dallas Children's Museum, is a non-profit educational organization located in Dallas' Fair Park. In support of its mission to inspire minds through nature and science, MNS delivers exciting, engaging and innovative visitor experiences through its education, exhibition and research and collections programming for students, teachers, families and life-long learners. The MNS campus includes the TI Founders IMAX® Theater and a cutting-edge digital planetarium. The museum is supported in part by funds from the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs, the Texas Commission on the Arts and EDS. To learn more visit http://www.natureandscience.org.

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 Junior FIRST LEGO League for 6 to 9 year-olds. To learn more about FIRST, go to http://www.usfirst.org. To learn more about the "Climate Connections" Challenge, go to http://www.firstlegoleague.org.

About the LEGO Group

LEGO Systems Inc. (LSI) is the Americas (North America and Latin America) division of The LEGO Group, a privately-held firm based in Billund, Denmark. The LEGO Group is committed to the development of children's creative and imaginative abilities through high-quality, creatively educational play materials, and its employees are guided by the motto adopted in the 1930s by founder Ole Kirk Christiansen: "Only the best is good enough." For more information, visit http://www.LEGO.com.

LEGO and the LEGO logo are trademarks of The LEGO Group. © 2008 The LEGO Group.

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Cynthia Stine
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