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UAlbany to Host ‘Disaster Blaster’ Junior FIRST Lego League Expo, December 7

Grade-schoolers will exhibit projects and posters on how technology can aid responses to natural disaster when the College of Computing and Information hosts its sixth Junior FIRST Lego League Expo. (Photo by Mark Schmidt)

ALBANY, N.Y. (November 27, 2013) -- 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 KeyBank, bring a Lego-inspired Expo to the UAlbany Campus Center Ballroom at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 7.

The College will host its sixth Junior FIRST Lego League (JrFLL) 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 natural disasters and emergency response: “Disaster Blaster.”

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 natural disasters, how technology can help respond to natural disasters, and how first responders use technology during disasters. 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, so all the teams are celebrated at a 3 p.m. Hi-Five award ceremony.

"The College of Computing and Information is excited to host the sixth 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. "The Expo has grown every year, both in our community support and involvement and the involvement of UAlbany students, faculty and staff. This year, we expect 20 UAlbany freshmen in Living Learning Communities to volunteer so it’s really nice to bring everyone together for this celebration."

“This is the 5th year Girl Scouts of Northeastern New York has been involved with Junior First Lego League Expo with the College of Computing and Information. Girl Scouts strives to offer girls hands-on experiences where they can participate, explore and learn in a unique way,” says Linda Stephen, Series & Event Pathway Supervisor. “The Junior First Lego League introduces girls to robotics on a level with coaches and mentors allowing them to be inquisitive, research their challenge, come to a conclusion on a solution and test their theories in a fun and collaborative way. GSNENY is very fortunate to work with members of the Society of Women Engineers for coaches to assist the girls as they work through the challenge and JrFLL season culminating with the Expo at UAlbany celebrating their successes.”

This is KeyBank’s sixth year as a primary partner in the event. Hugh Donlon, President of Capital Region Market, KeyBank NA says about the JrFLL Expo: “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 Expo is a result of a partnership of the College of Computing and Information Women in Technology (CCIWIT) program with Girls Scouts of Northeastern New York, KeyBank, Bechtel, 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 technology conferences.

The JrFLL program and challenge are designed by the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) as part of the FIRST Challenges. 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.

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