400 students to vie for scholarships, championship at robotic competition


Almost 400 Rhode Island elementary, middle and high school students, aged 9 to 14 will participate in the FIRST LEGO League HYDRODYNAMICS Championship Tournament on January 13 at Roger Williams University in Bristol.

The teams are vying for an opportunity to win the Champion’s Award, and to compete alongside teams from around the globe at in the FIRST WORLD FESTIVAL, in Detroit, Michigan, in April. Each student on the Rhode Island FIRST LEGO League Champion’s Award-winning team also receives a $20,000 ($5K, renewable 4 years) scholarship at Roger Williams University. The FIRST LEGO League season in Rhode Island is managed by Rhode Island Students of the Future, and sponsored by National Grid, Textron Charitable Trust and the Verizon Foundation. 

Representative Jim Langevin, U.S. Congressman from the 2nd District, will speak at opening ceremonies, which begin at 12:15 p.m.

The event is free and open to the public in the Roger Williams University Recreation Center, in Bristol, from noon until 5 p.m. Robot game matches will happen between 12:30 and 4:15 p.m.

More than 1,000 students, 37 percent of them girls, participated on 70 teams in public, private, parochial schools, community organizations and neighborhood groups across state and nearby Massachusetts. The teams spent weeks exploring how to improve the human water cycle, and developing a range of innovative solutions to the problems they discovered. They also designed, built and programmed a robot to complete missions on a pre-built game table where the missions represent concepts from the water cycle. FIRST LEGO League, a popular hands-on science, technology, engineering and math enrichment program, combine the excitement of robotics with a research project that encourages scientific literacy. 

Of the 70 teams that started the season, 40 advanced through the qualifying tournament system to compete in the state championship on January 13. 

From 12:15 pm to 4 pm, the public portion of the action-packed tournament, includes teams competing in two-and-a-half minute matches to earn points as their robots complete missions on the playing field, which is made entirely of LEGO elements. In the morning, each team presents a research project that highlights the problem they discovered in the water cycle and their solution for it to a panel of volunteer experts from the community. 

Teams, comprised of up to 10 students ages 9-14, vie for awards in categories such as Robot Design, Project Research, Innovative Solution, Inspiration, and Robot Performance. The team earning the highest cumulative score across all judging categories wins the coveted Champion’s Award, the RWU scholarships and an invitation to compete in the FIRST WORLD Festival in Detroit, which brings teams from across the globe together for a weekend of fun and competition.

Rhode Island Students of the Future is a non-profit organization that promotes STEAM engagement in youth through robotics. Founded in 1989, RISF manages the FIRST LEGO League and FIRST LEGO League Jr. programs in Rhode Island, serving more than 1000 students annually. RISF also produces the Robot Block Party, a family-oriented outreach event that attracts more than 3000 people to Providence every year. Major sponsors of Rhode Island Students of the Future include National Grid, Textron Charitable Trust, the Verizon Foundation, Zebra Technologies and IEEE. Roger Williams University has hosted the state championship since 2006. For more information visit the Rhode Island Students of the Future website at www.risf.net.


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