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2012.02.02 > For Immediate Release
contact: Sandi Alswager Karstens - IANR News Service
phone: 402.472.9711 - email: salswager2@unl.edu

Nebraska Robotics Expo to be Held Feb. 18

Omaha - More than 800 elementary, middle and high school students – and their robots – will embark on the Strategic Air and Space Museum near Ashland Feb. 18 for the annual Nebraska Robotics Expo.

The Nebraska Robotics Expo is a collaboration between the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL), the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) and others. Events at the expo include the Nebraska FIRST LEGO League Championship Tournament, the Junior FIRST LEGO Fair and the CEENBoT Showcase. This year’s events will also feature the expo’s first Creative Visual Arts Expo, which will include robotic-themed artwork created by students showing student creativity and understanding of robotics.

Gov. Dave Heineman opens the expo at 8:30 a.m. with events starting at 9 a.m. The day wraps up with closing ceremonies at 4:15 p.m.

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 science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, said Kathy Morgan, FIRST LEGO League coordinator in 4-H youth development at UNL.

Teams qualified for the event through other events held in Omaha, Kearney and Lincoln.

The theme for this year’s events is “Food Factor” and focuses on food safety. Teams have designed and programmed a robot made completely out of Legos. At the event, teams receive missions and then talk about how they will go forth and accomplish those missions.

Teams get 2 1/2 minutes to earn points. The top winning team receives an invitation to the FIRST World Festival in St. Louis.

The Junior FIRST 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 league’s theme is “Snack Attack.” Teams will receive trophies based on what they did well.

The Robotics Expo also will showcase activities with the Nebraska-created “CEENBoT” robot, which is one of the only robotics platforms developed and recognized by the National Science Foundation. It was conceptualized by students and faculty in the UNL Department of Computer Electronics Engineering, housed at the Peter Kiewit Institute in Omaha, and refined with input from UNO education faculty and area teachers and students.

Neal Grandgenett, a UNO professor of education and one of several university facilitators of the event, said the Nebraska Robotics Expo is a great opportunity for students to learn about STEM and put that learning into action.

“This event allows students to be recognized for their efforts in STEM in an atmosphere that is both fun and exciting,” Grandgenett said.

The CEENBoT event has students from elementary through high schools participate in different events and levels with different types of robots.

Cost to attend the Nebraska Robotics Expo, which includes admission to the museum, is $12 for adults, $11 for seniors and military and $6 for children ages 6 to 12.

For more information about the Nebraska Robotics Expo, visit http://ceen.unl.edu/neroboticsexpo/ or the Strategic Air and Space Museum at http://www.sasmuseum.com/. Those interested in starting their own team can visit http://www.usfirst.org/ for more information. Sponsors include Time Warner Cable, UNL, UNO, Peter Kiewit Institute, the Nebraska Air and Space Museum and others.

Strategic Air and Space Museum

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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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