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2011.02.10 > For Immediate Release
contact: Tim Kaldahl - University Relations
phone: 402.554.3502 - email: tkldahl@unomaha.edu

Learn More about Robots Feb. 19 at Strategic Air and Space Museum

Omaha - Robots will be taking over the Strategic Air and Space Museum near Ashland on Saturday, Feb. 19, as the Nebraska Robotics Expo moves in.

Nearly 800 elementary, middle and high school students from schools across the state will participate in the event, showing off their science, engineering, technology and math, or STEM, skills using robotics in a sports-like atmosphere complete with music and cheering, said Kathy Morgan, FIRST LEGO League coordinator in 4-H youth development at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Opening ceremonies will begin at 8:30 a.m. with events starting at 9 a.m. The day will conclude with closing ceremonies at 4:15 p.m.

The Nebraska Robotics Expo, a collaboration between UNL, the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) and others, will feature the Nebraska FIRST LEGO League Championship Tournament, the Junior FIRST LEGO Fair, and the CEENBoT Showcase. CEENBot is one of the only robotics platforms recognized by the National Science Foundation. It was developed by students in the UNL Department of Computer and Electronics Engineering, housed at the Peter Kiewit Institute in Omaha.

Neal Grandgenett, a UNO professor of education and one of several university facilitators of the event, said this is a great opportunity for students.

"We are excited with the momentum this program has picked up and the number of schools and youth groups interested and participating," he said. "A lot of people come together to make this event happen." Grandgenett said the event is a chance to showcase the outcomes of STEM learning and "put that learning into action."

The FIRST LEGO League tournament is a partnership between 4-H Youth Development and Time Warner Cable's Connect a Million Minds initiative to inspire the next generation of problem solvers through hands-on learning opportunities in STEM.

"Eighty percent of jobs created in the next decade will require math and science skills," said Brandy Johnson, spokesperson for Time Warner Cable. "Our partnership with 4-H further encourages kids to build the skills they will need to succeed in the future."

This is the first time in Nebraska history the Junior FIRST LEGO League Fair will take place at the Nebraska Robotics Expo, Morgan said.

Junior FIRST LEGO League is a program designed for 6-to-9 year olds that challenge teams of two to six to research a topic, create a poster presenting that research, build a LEGO model with at least one moving part, that addresses the topic researched and then present what they have learned to a reviewer.

The public is invited to attend the robotics expo. In addition to the competitions, the public can tour the museum. Cost is $12 for adults, $11 for seniors and military and $6 for children ages 6-12.

"This is an excellent event for students interested in starting their own group," Morgan said. New groups are formed each fall.

For more information, visit the Nebraska Robotics Expo website at http://4hset.unl.edu/4hdrupal/node/535 or the Strategic Air and Space Museum website at http://www.sasmuseum.com/.

Sponsors include Time Warner Cable, UNL, UNO, Peter Kiewit Institute and others.

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The University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) is Nebraska’s metropolitan university. The core values of the institution place students at the center of all that the university does; call for the campus to strive for academic excellence; and promote community engagement that transforms and improves urban, regional, national and global life. UNO, inaugurated in 1968, emerged from the Municipal University of Omaha, established in 1931, which grew out of the University of Omaha founded in 1908.

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