In its fifth year as Junior FIRST Lego League (JFLL) Expo host, UAlbany faculty, staff, and students, along with community volunteers participate with teams of second and third grade girls and boys from area schools and community groups to develop Lego-based projects. This year's theme focuses on the elderly and changes in technology: Super Seniors.
This year's Expo features 17 teams of as many as six children per team, plus a team coach and mentors comprising elementary school teachers, parents, community organizers, and CCI students. The grade-schoolers will exhibit projects and posters demonstrating their research about seniors, how technology has changed and how technology can help seniors stay independent. The Expo is intended to give students an opportunity to present their research and celebrate the hard work they’ve done as a team, while at the same time, highlighting how new ways of thinking about technology is needed in today’s world. It is not a competition, and all teams will be honored at a 3 p.m. award ceremony.
UAlbany faculty, staff, and students, along with community volunteers participate with teams of second and third grade girls and boys from area schools to develop Lego-based projects. (Photo Mark Schmidt)
"This is the fifth Expo hosted by the College of Computing and Information and we are just so happy to have the Junior FIRST Lego League Expo on the University at Albany campus," said Jennifer Goodall, assistant dean and director of the College's Women in Technology (CCIWIT) program. "UAlbany students volunteering as mentors get to experience the creativity and excitement generated by the elementary school kids. The younger kids explore technology and science in a fun and safe environment and interact with college students, professors and real scientists in an interactive way. The Junior FIRST Lego League Expo is a win-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.”
“Events like this are what Time Warner Cable’s Connect a Million Minds is all about - inspiring students to develop the science, technology, engineering and math -- STEM-- skills they need to become the problem solvers of tomorrow," said Jennifer Holick of 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 again this year.”
This is KeyBank’s fifth year as a primary partner in the event.
“Five 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."
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.
The JrFLL program and challenge are designed by the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) organization, as part of its FIRST Challenges program. The Junior FIRST Lego League is 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.