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MoonBots Challenges Teams to Conduct Lunar Missions with LEGO Robots

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by Staff Writers
Playa Vista CA (SPX) May 16, 2011
The X PRIZE Foundation and the LEGO Group has announced MoonBots 2.0: A Google Lunar X PRIZE LEGO MINDSTORMS Challenge. This second annual contest will challenge teams of youth to design, program, and construct robots that perform simulated lunar missions similar to those required to win the $30 million Google Lunar X PRIZE, a private race to the Moon designed to enable commercial exploration of space while engaging the global public.

To further this purpose, the X PRIZE Foundation and the LEGO Group have partnered with WIRED magazine and FIRST robotics to offer a competition that will excite students and their families about the Moon, robotics, and team building.

"In the MoonBots 2.0 Challenge, students get to produce videos, gain computer programming skills, and learn the latest in technological advances at it relates to space exploration. It is important to inspire this generation with the Google Lunar X PRIZE and help kids understand that Moon exploration is still relevant and exciting," said Chanda Gonzales, Google Lunar X PRIZE Education Manager.

Teams will be asked to submit fun, scientific video clips that talk about space exploration. In addition to the video, each team will be asked to write a proposal explaining why their robot should be funded to go to the moon, similar to the proposals authored by actual Google Lunar X PRIZE teams.

From these submissions, a select group will be chosen as finalists and provided with free LEGO components to construct a large Moonscape that will serve as the competition's 'playing field.' Finalists will then design their robot using CAD software, program it, and demonstrate their robot to be judged.

Finalist teams will be asked to complete a STEM outreach project to mentor kids to get excited about the MoonBots 2.0 Challenge, a requirement unique to this year's contest.

For more than a decade, the LEGO MINDSTORMS robotics toolkits have given children of all ages the best of both the physical and virtual worlds, combining LEGO bricks with state-of-the-art hardware and easy-to-use programming software.

LEGO MINDSTORMS empowers users to conceive, build, and program robotic inventions for both play and learning purposes. In just 30 minutes, young robot creators can build and program their first working LEGO robot.

"Our mission is to inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow. It is the youth of today that will form the future society, solving the big issues of today and face the challenges ahead of us. We want to prepare them by encouraging them to pursue science, technology, engineering, and math and combine their imagination and creativity with hard skills to, for example, work on space exploration challenges for the common good of us all," said Steven Canvin of the LEGO Group.

"This is where the MoonBots 2.0 Challenge is perfect for getting the 9-17 year olds thinking about the problems associated with lunar exploration, by emulating landing on the Moon by building LEGO MINDSTORMS robots."

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