Thanks to APEF, Austin students have Lego League

Published 12:41 pm Friday, October 26, 2012

By David Wolff

Gifted and talented coordinator


“To transform our culture by creating a world where science and technology are celebrated and where young people dream of becoming science and technology leaders.”

These are the words of the founder of FIRST, Dean Kamen. Kamen, the inventor of the Segway, founded the organization FIRST (For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) in 1989 to get students excited about science, technology and engineering in school. His impact has spread all over the world, influencing more than 300,000 students during the 2012-2013 school year — even here in Austin, where over the past four years, about 500 students have participated in a FIRST program.

With the generous support by the Austin Public Education Foundation, all four elementary schools in Austin are able to offer the FIRST Lego League (Jr. FLL) and/or Lego Robotics (FLL) programs for students to participate in.

Both programs provide access to students to various science and technology concepts that otherwise they wouldn’t in the regular classroom curriculum. Students are excited and enthused about working in teams to invent and create solutions to everyday problems.

Each year, APEF funds have purchased additional Lego pieces, robot programming materials, and other supplies to make the Lego League and Lego Robotics programs successful.

This year, students are collaborating to solve the thematic problem posed by FIRST, Senior Solutions.

Students are working with a partner senior citizen to identify one way they can create a solution to age-related problem so seniors can live a healthy, independent life-style. In December, they will take their robot to compete and presenting their research and solution at the regional competition in Rochester. In addition to working with their teammates, The Austin Lego Robotics teams collaborate with the two teams from the Southland School District throughout the year.

Without funding from APEF, these experiences would not be impacting students all over the Austin area.