Feb. 25: SD FIRST LEGO League Championship

Event Details

Date: February 24, 2012

Times: 8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Location: Elmen Center

Ticket Info: Free and open to the public

Augustana will host the third annual South Dakota FIRST® LEGO® League Championship from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 25, in the Elmen Center. The event will feature a special video tribute to Dr. Dan Swets, Kevin Anderson '87 and Joshua Lambrecht, league leaders who were killed in a plane crash near the Sioux Falls Regional Airport on December 9.

More than 500 students from 62 teams across South Dakota – including 38 teams from Sioux Falls alone – will compete at the event, a competition where middle school students (ages 9-14) design, build and program an autonomous robot to accomplish prescribed missions on a 4x8 playing field. Teams will also give presentations on research projects illustrating how they’ve tackled a problem and proposed a novel solution.

General Schedule:

  • 7-8 a.m.: Team Check-in (Elmen)
  • 8 a.m.: Meetings for Coaches, Judges, Volunteers
  • 8:40 a.m.: Opening Ceremonies (Elmen)
  • 9:15 a.m. – 1:45 p.m.: Judging Events (Madsen Center)
  • (Lunch break: 11:05-12:10)
  • 9:30 a.m. – 2:42 p.m.:  Robot Runs (Elmen)
  • (Lunch break: 12:08-1:38)
  • 2:45 p.m.: Cleanup Challenge!
  • 3 p.m.: Awards Ceremony (Elmen)

The event is free and open to the public.

Prior to his death, Swets, who served as president of the South Dakota Robotics Association and a partner at the South Dakota FIRST® LEGO® League, was actively planning for the event – one many have dubbed “a sport for the mind.” Learn more about Dr. Swets.

“The basic premise is that if what our culture values and emulates is movie stars and sports heroes, why can’t we make science just as cool? That’s our basic philosophy. We encourage kids to explore science and engineering through fun, hands-on learning that’s driven by competition. It gives kids something to work for, and the tournaments make them feel like rock stars,” Swets said earlier this year.

His widow, Robyn Swets '07, is picking up where her husband left off. She’s coordinating the event along with Cindy Anderson, the widow of Kevin Anderson.

“Each and every one of these kids has amazing talents. Yet, for many of them, this will be the first time they’ve ever heard a crowd cheer for their accomplishments,” Robyn said. “It’s a fantastic program that not only exposes kids to the wonders of science, it also builds self-confidence and helps forge great friendships. It’s an honor to continue the event in Dan’s memory.”