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UAlbany Hosts Biomedical Engineering-Themed Junior FIRST Lego League Expo

ALBANY, N.Y. (March 22, 2011) -- Elementary school children will have the opportunity to connect technology and the real world when the University at Albany's College of Computing and Information (CCI), Girl Scouts of Northeastern NY (GSNENY) and local businesses bring a Lego-inspired expo to the UAlbany Campus Center Ballroom on Saturday, March 26, at 1 p.m.

The College will host its third Junior FIRST Lego League (JFLL) Expo, where faculty, staff, students, and community volunteers participate with teams of 6 to 9-year-old girls and boys from area schools and community groups to develop Lego-based projects around the bio-medical engineering theme: Body Forward.

Kids gather round at 2010 UAlbany LEGO League Expo

Elementary school children gather round a young investigator at last year's Junior FIRST Lego League Expo. This year's is on March 26.

This year's Expo features 23 teams of as many as six children per team, plus a team coach and mentors comprising elementary school teachers, UAlbany CCI students, and parents. The grade-schoolers will exhibit projects and posters demonstrating how Lego technology can be used to describe the technology that could be used to fix sick or hurt body parts. Reviewers connected to the world of medicine, including doctors and nurses, a University at Albany biology student and research scientists will discuss the models and posters with the grade-schoolers. It’s not a competition, so all the teams are celebrated at a 3 p.m. award ceremony.

"The College of Computing and Information is thrilled to once again host the Junior FIRST Lego League Expo on the UAlbany campus," said Jennifer Goodall, assistant dean and director of the College's Women in Technology (CCIWIT) program. "UAlbany students volunteer as mentors and for the event itself and get to experience the creativity and excitement generated by the elementary school kids. The younger kids have an opportunity to explore technology and science in a fun and safe environment and interact with college students, professors and real scientists in a very personal and interactive way. The Junior FIRST Lego League Expo is a win for everyone."

“The best programs are the ones that present activities to girls that are relevant to their everyday life,” said Linda Stephen, Girl Development Series & Event Supervisor at the Girl Scouts of Northeastern New York.  “The Junior FIRST Lego League Expo does exactly that, by allowing the girls to be inquisitive, push boundaries, and test limits in a fun and collaborative way.”

This is KeyBank’s third year as a primary partner in the event. "When we were approached three years ago for support we recognized the value of this Junior FIRST program. We at Key are proud to continue our support. Programs such as these engage and encourage our young people to have fun while exploring the many aspects of science and technology," said Jeff Stone, president of Capital Region District, Keybank National Association.

The expo is a result of a partnership of the College of Computing and Information Women in Technology program with Girls Scouts of Northeastern New York, KeyBank, Bechtel, Motorola Foundation, Price Chopper’s Golub Foundation, and University Auxiliary Services.

CCIWIT is dedicated to supporting, empowering, and building community among female faculty, graduate, and undergraduate students.  The program encourages girls in middle school and high school to pursue undergraduate and graduate studies in the fields related to computer science, informatics, and information science. As a result, CCIWIT initiatives are designed to address the critical need to bridge the achievement gap and increase access for women to enter the male-dominated computing and information technology fields.  In addition to diverse campus outreach programs, CCIWIT hosts a speaker series for Technology Leaders of Today and provides opportunities for students to attend national IT conferences.

The JFLL program is designed by the company FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) and LEGO for children 6 to 9 years old to introduce them to basic design skills and a hands-on approach to science and technology through the familiarity and fun of LEGO building.

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