South Florida Science Center and Aquarium Brings FIRSTⓇ LEGOⓇ League to South Florida

The South Florida Science Center and Aquarium is partnering with the Green Mouse Academy to strengthen the impact of the FIRST LEGO League in the South Florida region. Educators will plan and run qualifying tournaments for more than 150 teams in Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade, Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River, and Okeechobee Counties, culminating in a Regional Championship and a State Invitational Tournament this Spring.

This year’s global game mission is in celebration of 50 years since one billion people huddled around their radios and TV screens in awe as we walked on the moon for the first time. Guided by Coaches, Teams will research a real-world problems such as food safety, recycling, etc. and are challenged to develop a solution by designing, building and programming a robot using LEGO MINDSTORMS® technology, then compete on a table-top playing field. The Science Center will provide coach training, team workshops, kickoff events, camps and other enrichment programs.

FIRST is the most recognized non-profit STEM robotics education program in the world,” said Lew Crampton, President of the Science Center. “It is a huge feather in our cap to be invited by the program’s leadership to take on these coordination responsibilities.  After careful consideration of the benefits of this program, we are convinced that stepping up to support this program is the right decision.”

Participating young people learn how to apply STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) concepts as well as imagination to solve a problem. They will also develop critical thinking, team-building and perseverance as they present their solutions to judges.

“At the Science Center, we are always opening every mind to science, including STEM concepts” said Kate Arrizza, CEO of the Science Center. “Thanks to generous donations from our trustees and board members, we have bolstered our STEM programming recently, and the FIRSTprogram fits our vision. I am thrilled to co-chair the South Florida Robotics Advisory Board to help expand the impact of FIRST programs throughout our region.”

Green Mouse Academy, a leading local STEM content developer is the Affiliate Partner for the FIRST LEGO League and FIRST LEGO League Jr. programs in South Florida and helps students and educators explore topics they are already passionate about and fuel creative ideas and exploration through project-based learning activities disguised as interactive play.

Shane Vander Kooi, President of Green Mouse Academy, commented on the partnership announcement by adding, “FIRST offers a progression of exciting, team-based robotics programs, allowing kids to develop hands-on skills using complex STEM concepts from kindergarten through 12th grade.  To date our programs have positively impacted individual students, parents, coaches and teachers.  Now through this valuable partnership with the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium, we’ll be in a better position to scale what we are doing together to impact our entire community.”

Strategic partners in this program include Green Mouse Academy, The Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County, Prime Time Palm Beach County, and the School District of Palm Beach County. Event Sponsors include FPL, Lockheed Martin, Infento Education, Reboot:The Guardian Code, Microsoft and Belcan.

FIRST LEGO League competitions are scheduled on weekends around South Florida through April, including events at this year’s South Florida Fair, which are open to the public.  Visit www.southfloridarobotics.org for a full schedule.