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Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Hudson Valley FLL, and Time Warner Cable Set To Host FIRST LEGO® League Robotics Tournament for Local Elementary and Middle Schools


Media Relations

December 6, 2012

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Hudson Valley FLL, and Time Warner Cable Set To Host FIRST LEGO® League Robotics Tournament for Local Elementary and Middle Schools

Area Middle School Students Set To Tackle the Topic of Aging With Innovative Solutions This Weekend

When it comes to addressing aging, what ideas can young students offer? Just ask the 14 elementary and middle school teams from the Capital Region that will compete in the FIRST LEGO® League (FLL) Regional Qualifying Tournament at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Dec. 8. More than 120 students have been working together to use their imagination and creativity in combination with science and technology to seek ways to improve the quality of life for seniors by helping them remain independent, engaged, and connected.

The global competition is being brought to the region for the seventh time. The program kicks off with the opening ceremonies at 9:25 a.m. in the Darrin Communications Center (DCC), room 308. Immediately following, the robotics competition begins and culminates with a closing ceremony and awards presentation beginning at 3:30 p.m.

“This year’s challenge required teams to partner with a senior citizen over the age of 60 and research innovative solutions to obstacles that keep seniors from having quality and engaging lifestyles in their communities,” said Paul Schoch, associate professor in the Rensselaer Electrical, Computer, and Systems Engineering department, and director of the Center for Initiatives in Pre-College Education (CIPCE). The CIPCE works with area teachers and students to promote the use of robotics in the classroom.

“This topic of aging is an excellent — and in some cases personal — theme for students to address,” Schoch added. “When you think about it, from the second that we are born to this very minute, we are getting older. Students love learning about something that is part of their life, and this competition encourages them to see the connections that such issues have to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines.”

Schoch said students from the Capital Region and around the world have been tasked with researching a real-world scientific issue, which also serves to show students how seniors, lawmakers, doctors, scientists, engineers, and other groups working on aging issues can work together to find solutions. 

Overall, in the Senior Solutions SM Challenge, more than 200,000 elementary, middle and high school students from more than 60 countries will explore the topic of aging, and how it may affect a person’s ability to maintain his or her lifestyle, with hopes of offering creative ideas to solve issues related to getting around, keeping in touch, or staying fit.

As part of the challenge, FIRST LEGO® League teams of up to 10 children, with adult coaches, are evaluated in 4 areas, points scored on a themed playing field, the robot design, core values of the team and a presentation of a research project. In Senior Solutions SM,  robots are tasked with completing missions related to being independent, engaged and connected.  These include using the robot to fix a chair, selecting the correct medication, working with service animals, turning off stove burners, exercise, and setting up a video call.

This year’s event is made possible through a partnership between Rensselaer, Hudson Valley FLL, and Time Warner Cable, which has co-sponsored the event for the last three years. Through the Connect a Million Minds Initiative, Time Warner Cable is committed to providing exciting, hands-on opportunities for kids to engage in science, technology, engineering, and math. 

Participating teams are from around the Capital Region. The tournament provides elementary and middle school students with an opportunity to understand common themes that connect science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

“After eight intense weeks, the competition season culminates in high-energy, sports-like tournaments around the globe,” Schoch said. “This weekend, teams of children guided by their volunteer coaches will demonstrate their problem-solving skills, creative thinking, teamwork, competitive play, sportsmanship, and sense of community. We’re proud to host this competition because events like this not only help students to bring technology to life through their hands-on participation, but it can also inspire them to consider future careers as scientists and engineers.” 

This year’s tournament supported by more than 75 volunteers — including Rensselaer students, faculty, and staff, along with area students from high school robotics teams — puts eight weeks of research, design, and programming to the test, giving local students the chance to participate at the FLL World Festival. In April, more than 30,000 participants, volunteers, and spectators will gather to celebrate top teams at the annual FIRST Championship, held at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.

Past FIRST LEGO® League challenges have focused on topics that included: food safety, oceanography, biomedical engineering, nanotechnology, climate, quality of life for the handicapped population, and transportation.  In 2013, the challenge will focus on NATURE’S FURY?. In the 2013 Challenge, over 200,000 from over 70 countries will explore the awe-inspiring storms, quakes, waves, often known as natural disasters. Teams will discover what can be done when intense natural events meet the places people live, work, and play. 

FLL is a partnership between the LEGO® Group and FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), which was founded in 1989 by inventor Dean Kamen to motivate young people to pursue careers in science, technology, and engineering. FLL is the middle school component of the FIRST Robotics Competition, an international contest that teams professionals and young people to solve an engineering design problem in a competitive way. For more information, visit:

View the Senior Solutions SM Challenge Release Video: YouTube version

Robot Game Designer and Engineer, Scott Evans, describes the Senior Solutions SM Robot GameView the video: Official Robot Game video (YouTube)


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Founded in 1824, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is America’s first technological research university. Rensselaer encompasses five schools, 32 research centers, more than 145 academic programs, and a dynamic community made up of more than 7,600 students and more than 100,000 living alumni. Rensselaer faculty and alumni include more than 145 National Academy members, six members of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, six National Medal of Technology winners, five National Medal of Science winners, and a Nobel Prize winner in Physics. With nearly 200 years of experience advancing scientific and technological knowledge, Rensselaer remains focused on addressing global challenges with a spirit of ingenuity and collaboration.