Spartanburg, SC – Saturday, January 11th the Jesse L. Bridges Arena at Spartanburg Methodist College will feature a different sport than the usual basketball – the Pioneers will host a “sport for the mind” – the Spartanburg FIRST LEGO League Regional Qualifier tournament, beginning at 9 a.m.
Dean Kamen, an inventor, entrepreneur, and tireless advocate for science and technology, founded FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) in 1989 to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology. Based in Manchester, NH, the 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit public charity designs accessible, innovative programs that motivate young people to pursue education and career opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math, while building self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills.
The FIRST LEGO League introduces younger students to real-world engineering challenges by building LEGO-based robots to complete tasks on a thematic playing surface. FLL teams, guided by their imaginations and adult coaches, discover exciting career possibilities and, through the process, learn to make positive contributions to society. Elementary and middle-school students get to: Design, build, test and program robots using LEGO MINDSTORMS® technology; apply real-world math and science concepts; research challenges facing today’s scientists; learn critical thinking, team-building and presentation skills and participate in tournaments and celebrations.
Dr. Woodie Flowers, FIRST National Advisor and Pappalardo Professor Emeritus of Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, coined the term “Gracious Professionalism” – part of the ethos of FIRST, which encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community. Another FIRST value is “Coopertition” – founded on the concept and a philosophy that teams can and should help and cooperate with each other even as they compete.
Tonya LeBrun, local FLL Tournament Director, stated “with Gracious Professionalism, students learn and compete like crazy, but treat one another with respect and kindness in the process. They avoid treating anyone like losers. No chest thumping tough talk, but no sticky-sweet platitudes either. Coopertition involves learning from teammates; teaching teammates; learning from Mentors; and displaying unqualified kindness and respect in the face of fierce competition.”
The doors will open at 8 a.m. Saturday morning and the 9 a.m. opening ceremony will begin with a welcome from SMC President Dr. Colleen Perry Keith, who shared “SMC is thrilled to play a role in the inspiration of young people to be science and technology leaders. What FLL teams accomplish is nothing short of amazing. It’s fun. It’s exciting. And the skills they learn will last a lifetime.” The event is open to the public and admission is free of charge.