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UAlbany Hosts Junior FIRST Lego League Expo

"Snack Attack" Theme Focuses on Educating Children about Food Health and Safety

ALBANY, N.Y. (November 30, 2011) -- Area 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), Time Warner Cable’s Connect a Million Minds, KeyBank and other local businesses bring a Lego-inspired Expo to the UAlbany Campus Center Ballroom on Saturday, December 3, at 1 p.m.

Team members with Lego construction at Junior FIRST Lego League Expo at UAlbany

Team members display their project at the Junior FIRST Lego League Expo in March 2011 hosted by the University at Albany's College of Computing and Information. (Photo by Mark Schmidt)

The College will host its fourth 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 food safety and healthy eating. This year's Expo features 31 teams of as many as six children per team, plus a coach and mentors comprising elementary school teachers, parents, community organizers, and CCI students.

"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."

Steve Barnes, a restaurant reviewer at the Times Union, and others connected to the world of nutrition, food preparation, and science and technology will discuss the models and posters with the grade-schoolers. All the teams will be celebrated at a 3 p.m. award ceremony.

"The best programs for girls are the ones that present activities 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, test limits in a fun and collaborative way."

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, Time Warner Cable/Connect a Million Minds, KeyBank, Motorola Foundation, and University Auxiliary Services.

"Time Warner Cable's Connect a Million Minds initiative inspires students to develop the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills they need to become the problem solvers of tomorrow," said Jennifer Holick, Time Warner Cable. "The Junior FIRST Lego League Expo brings it all together through creative hands-on learning which makes technology fun – a program we are proud to be a part of."

This is KeyBank’s fourth year as a primary partner in the event. "Four years ago when we were approached for support we recognized the value of this Junior FIRST program," said Jeff Stone, President of Capital Region District, KeyBank NA.  "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."

The JrFLL 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.

About CCIWIT

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 technology conferences.

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