Friday, January 26, 2007
We believe that getting kids interested in science, computers, and technology early on is very important, so we were honored last weekend to receive the "FIRST LEGO® League Outreach" award at the Northern California FLL championship tournament. FLL is a program encouraging fourth- to eighth-grade kids to study science and technology. Each fall, student teams (who compete at the local, national and international level) build autonomous LEGO® robots to tackle a set of challenge missions -- and finish as many as they can in 2-½ minutes! This year's challenge: called Nano Quest.
We hosted a couple of FLL meetings and put on our own Google Qualifying Tournament (beta) in December. We loved hosting these events -- they are a great way to reach out to the community, and putting on the tournament was fun! We had a couple of dozen Google volunteers, several FLL volunteers, and 16 student teams -- about 150 people in all. (The winning team from our Northern California region will go on to the World FLL Festival -- 104 teams from 38 countries -- to be held in April in Atlanta.)
So we thought that was that, until next season. Neither we or our partners at Playing@Learning (who coordinate regional FLL events in Northern California, along with the FIRST Vex Challenge, a more ambitious program for high school students) expected what happened next: other Silicon Valley companies took notice, and are now planning to get involved. That's a great kind of viral marketing -- the more outreach, the better.
FLL teams form between May and September, with qualifying tournaments in late November or early December. So if you're between 9 and 14, and robotics and a LEGO® challenge sound like a lot of fun -- there's bound to be a competition for you.