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American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

    AIAA Executive Director Sandy Magnus Participates in 15th Annual FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL®) Championship Tournament in San Diego

    By Lawrence Garrett, AIAA Web Editor, Posted 12 December 2013

    IMG_4275Recently, Dr. Sandra H. Magnus, the executive director of AIAA and a former NASA astronaut, as well as John Rose, chief of staff, office of the Vice President, Engineering & Mission Assurance at Boeing, and AIAA’s deputy director of public policy for western states, participated in the 15th Annual FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL®) Championship Tournament which took place Saturday and Sunday, 7–8 December, at LEGOLAND California Resort. The event competition welcomed 112 teams comprised of over 1,100 students, ages 9 to 14, who demonstrated their problem-solving skills, creative thinking, teamwork, competitive play, sportsmanship, and a sense of community. (Image to left: Dr. Magnus and John Rose (far right) congratulate award winners as part of the FLL “High 5 line” at the closing ceremony of the Southern California FIRST LEGO League (FLL) championship at LEGOLAND California. Click image for larger version.  Photo courtesy of Robot Magazine.)

    Kicking off the competition on Saturday, 7 December, Dr. Magnus appeared in her flight suit offering words of encouragement for the young roboticists. Following her presentation, Dr. Magnus toured the pits and interacted with students. Dr. Magnus is known for her extensive public outreach focused on inspiring the next generation to pursue a science, math, or an engineering career.

    “FIRST LEGO League is a great vehicle for helping keep kids in the STEM pipeline; having Dr. Magnus share her experiences as an astronaut, her passion for STEM, and the importance of programs like FLL, took the day's excitement for both the kids and parents to a whole new level,” said Rose. He added, “Many parents and coaches commented on how inspiring it was for the team members, especially girls, to have a role model like Dr. Magnus take time to talk one on one with the kids. Her message of 'You can do anything you set your mind to' was answered many times throughout the day with 'I want to be an astronaut!'”

    Describing the opportunity to participate, and the importance of the competition, Dr. Magnus said, “This was my first chance to experience a FIRST LEGO League competition. It was an amazing event and what impressed me was how engaged and excited the young competitors were. I also had the opportunity to meet many dedicated volunteers and mentors. These competitions are making a big impact on our youth and propagating the excitement about engineering, teamwork, and problem solving. It was great to be a part of it!”

    The FIRST® LEGO® League is an international program for 9 to 14 year olds to get children excited about science and technology – and teach them valuable career and life skills. Using LEGO MINDSTORMS® technologies and LEGO® Education materials, children work alongside adult mentors to design, build, and program autonomous robots and create an innovative solution to a problem as part of their research project. After eight intense weeks, the competition season culminates at high-energy, sportslike tournaments.


    All photos courtesy of Sandy Huffaker.


    Sandy_on_LegoLand_Stage   Sandy_and_Mark_Wyland   Sandy
    Dr. Magnus welcomes FIRST LEGO League team members and their parents to the start of the robot competition in the LEGOLAND California theatre.   Dr. Magnus speaks with CA State Senator Mark Wyland (38th District).   Dr. Magnus fields questions about flying in space from FIRST LEGO League team members.


    Sandy_Educates_Students   Sandy_having_fun_with_students   Sandy_in_FlightSuit_with_two_Students
    Dr. Magnus talks with FIRST LEGO League team members about living on the ISS.    Dr. Magnus listens to FIRST LEGO League team members explain their team's project.   Dr. Magnus talks with FIRST LEGO League team members on how her interest in STEM led her to become an astronaut.



    First Lego League Stage   Sandy Magnus shows NASA patch to students  
    Bird's-eye view of the FIRST LEGO League robotics challenge game area at LEGOLAND California.   Dr. Sandy Magnus shows FIRST LEGO League team members her STS-135 mission patch.  


    Click images for larger versions.