Students Compete at Nebraska Robotics Expo in Ashland Feb. 16

A student testing a wheeled robot. Links to larger image.

Feb. 14, 2013

LINCOLN, Neb. — Young people across the state accepted the challenge of using robotics to help seniors deal with problems arising from aging as well as other ways to problem solve using robotics. Their solutions take center stage at the Nebraska Robotics Expo Feb. 16 at the Strategic Air and Space Museum in Ashland.

Opening ceremonies begin at 8:30 a.m. with Gov. Dave Heineman. Events start at 9 a.m. Closing ceremonies begin at 4 p.m.

The Nebraska Robotics Expo, a collaboration between the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the University of Nebraska at Omaha and others, features the Nebraska FIRST LEGO League Championship Tournament presented by Time Warner Cable, the Junior FIRST LEGO League Fair and the CEENBoT Showcase.

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 math, or STEM.

"Our partnership with FIRST LEGO League has helped to make young people aware of the excitement and possibilities of STEM," said Scott Miller, general manager for Time Warner Cable Nebraska. "STEM education is crucial for local students and for our country as a whole, and we are proud to do our part to help nurture the next generation of problem solvers."

FIRST LEGO League teams qualified for the event through events in Omaha, Bellevue, Kearney, Lincoln and Humboldt.

The theme for this year's events is Senior Solutions and focuses on the physical, emotional and technological challenges of aging. The 48 participating teams have each designed and programmed a robot made completely out of Legos. At the event, teams compete in a robot game where they get 2.5 minutes to earn points. They also present their project research and are judged on teamwork.

The Champions Award winning team receives an invitation to the North American FIRST  LEGO League Open Championship at LEGOLAND in Carlsbad, Calif.

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 Jr. FLL theme is similar and is called "Super Seniors." Teams will receive trophies based on what they did well.

"It's an exciting day when youth get to show off their hard work and everything they've learned throughout the season," said Kathleen Morgan, Nebraska FIRST LEGO League coordinator. "The tournament is a celebration of our future scientists and engineers."

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 Electronics Engineering, housed at the Peter Kiewit Institute in Omaha.

The CEENBoT event has students from elementary through high school, making up 84 teams, participate in different events and levels with different types of robots.

"The students take away a deeper insight into the true nature of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, while building and running robots that take advantage of all these disciplines in the context of each other, like they are used in real life," said Neal Grandgenett, UNO Haddix Chair of STEM education.

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 6-12.

For more information about the Nebraska Robotics Expo, visit or the Strategic Air and Space Museum at Those interested in starting their own FIRST LEGO League team can visit for more information.

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

Tracy Pracheil
Extension Educator
4-H Youth Development

Kristina Jackson
student writer
IANR News Service

Sandi Alswager Karstens
IANR News Service

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