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Following eight weeks of research and design, 56 teams from elementary and middle schools across Long Island demonstrated their problem-solving skills, creative thinking, teamwork, competitive play and sportsmanship at this year's Long Island FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) LEGO League Tournament that took place Sunday, Jan. 11 at Longwood High School in Middle Island.

Team #372, the Sewanhaka Cobras of Floral Park, earned the Rising Star award, which recognizes a team that the judges believe stands out and that great things will be heard from this team in the future.

This year marked the fifth year of the tournament on Long Island, which was sponsored by the School-Business Partnerships of Long Island, Inc. (SBPLI). This year, FIRST collaborated with the U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, professors at MIT and University of Massachusetts, Amherst and experts from LEGO Education to create a theme and challenge missions reflective of the hurdles that scientists experience relative to climate study.

Founded by inventor Dean Kamen, FIRST was created to inspire young people's interest and participation in science and technology. FIRST LEGO League is an international program for 9 to 14-year-old children created in a partnership between FIRST and The LEGO Group in 1998 based on their common belief that fun and learning go hand-in-hand, and that an inspired mind can accomplish anything.

Each September, FIRST LEGO League announces the annual challenge to teams, engaging them in authentic scientific research and hands-on robotics design. Using LEGO MINDSTORMS(r) technologies and LEGO play materials, children work alongside adult mentors to design, build and program robots to complete missions based on real-world challenges. After eight intense weeks, the competition season culminates at high-energy, sports-like tournaments.

"FIRST LEGO League so brilliantly captures the natural curiosity and creativity of youth, and combines it with real-world issues and research and teamwork activities that put children in a position of identifying and creating innovative solutions to big problems," Jens Maibom, vice president, LEGO Group, said. "In this manner, FIRST LEGO League inspires children around the world to realize the power of their creative thinking skills in making a real difference, which naturally makes them feel good and motivates them to continue learning by doing."

Fred Breithut, founder and chairman of School-Business Partnership of Long Island, said: "We are pleased to coordinate the Long Island FIRST LEGO League Tournament. It is an extension of the FIRST Robotics Competition. Together these programs are opening a world of technology, science, and engineering to so many Long Island students, helping to build our high tech workforce of the future."

For more information about the School-Business Partnerships of Long Island, contact (631) 692-2962 or visit www.sbpli-lifirst.org.


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