First® LEGO® League "Food Factor" Challenge

Area children, ages 9 to 14, are among the record 171,000 children around the world who have risen to the FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL®) "Food Factor®" Challenge. Food Factor was developed with the input of food safety and protection experts to provide a practical and realistic challenge project and LEGO MINDSTORMS® robot obstacle course. Locally, more than 1400 children on 146 teams have competed in 6 qualifying tournaments held in December 2011. The 60 teams that qualified to advance have been preparing to compete in the Championship Tournament. John H. Reagan High School will host the Championship Tournament on Saturday, January 7 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Teams originate in public schools, private schools, home school groups, community organizations and in neighborhoods. Children will go head-to-head, putting the results of their research project, their robot design, and computer programming to the test as they contend for honors and recognition.

The UH College of Technology, through its Coordination of Robotics Education Program (CORE) leads the FIRST LEGO League program for the Greater Houston Area. CORE provides teacher training in robotics and special events such as robotics tournaments throughout the year CORE is a program of the Center for Technology Literacy (CTL) in the Engineering Technology Department of the College of Technology. "Robotics is a great tool for keeping kids interested in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and for teaching them how to work with others," said Karen Cohen, Program Manager of CORE. "We hope this will begin their journey to careers in these very important fields. UH students are highly committed to community service and helping children through student organizations. In fact, several are volunteering to help manage the tournament", she said.

The FLL season will conclude with the FLL World Festival at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, Missouri, April 25-28, 2012. With robot obstacle course missions including pollution reversal, pest control and food storage and preparation, teams will have to program their LEGO MINDSTORMS® robots to explore the growing questions around how to safely get food from its source to consumption. "There is no shortage of creativity among FIRST LEGO League teams, but plenty of room for improvement in how we handle and prepare our food," said FIRST Founder Dean Kamen. "I can't wait to see what these bright minds come up with. Food Factor should bring some new and interesting ideas to the table."

For more information about the FLL tournament, visit the CORE program web site at