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Randall Hicks (right), Jacobs Technology's Education Services manager at NASA John C. Stennis Space Center, answers questions about the playing field for FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) LEGO League's 2007 Challenge, `Power Puzzle.' More than 140 teachers, mentors, parents and students from 15 schools attended the Sept. 15 FLL season kickoff at StenniSphere, the visitor center at SSC. The teams from southern and central Mississippi and Mobile, Ala., who came to SSC heard rules for and asked questions about `Power Puzzle,' and saw robot demonstrations by Gulfport and Picayune high schools' past FIRST Robotics competitions. Using LEGO Mindstorms NXT kits, FLL teams of children ages 9-14 will spend the next three months building and programming robots to perform 'Power Puzzle's' challenge tasks, then pit them in competitions. They also will submit a research project about how energy choices impact the environment and the economy. The season will culminate at the Mississippi Championship Tournament on Dec. 8 at the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. FLL, considered the `little league' of the FIRST Robotics Competition, partners FIRST and the LEGO Group. Competitions aim to inspire and celebrate science and technology using real-world context and hands-on experimentation. NASA recognizes FIRST activities as an excellent hands-on method to increase student knowledge of science, engineering, technology and mathematics. Schools represented in this year's kickoff were: Madison Avenue Upper Elementary, the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians' Conehatta Elementary, Hattiesburg's Lillie Burney Elementary, Pearl Upper Elementary, Long Beach Middle, Oktibehha Elementary, d'Iberville Middle, Saucier's West Wortham Middle, Picayune's Nicholson Elementary and Roseland Park Baptist Church Academy, Bay St. Louis' St. Stanislaus College and Mobile's Davidson High, as well as two home-school groups from the Jackson area.
NASA Identifier: SSC-2007-02814
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