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MoonBots 2.0 Challenges Teams to Conduct Google Lunar XPRIZE Missions with LEGO Robots

MoonBots 2.0 Challenges Teams to Conduct Google Lunar XPRIZE Missions with LEGO Robots

Playa Vista, CA (May 13, 2011) — The XPRIZE Foundation and the LEGO Group today announced MoonBots 2.0: A Google Lunar XPRIZE 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 XPRIZE, a private race to the Moon designed to enable commercial exploration of space while engaging the global public. To further this purpose, the XPRIZE 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 XPRIZE and help kids understand that Moon exploration is still relevant and exciting,” said Chanda Gonzales, Google Lunar XPRIZE 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 XPRIZE 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.”

Free registration and Phase One of the contest will be open from May 9th through June 13. Phase Two of the contest begins June 27th through August 15th. To learn more about the MoonBots 2.0 Challenge and to find out how to register a team visit http://www.moonbots.org.

ABOUT THE XPRIZE FOUNDATION

Founded in 1995, the XPRIZE Foundation is the leading nonprofit organization solving the world’s Grand Challenges by creating and managing large-scale, high-profile, incentivized prize competitions that stimulate investment in research and development worth far more than the prize itself. The organization motivates and inspires brilliant innovators from all disciplines to leverage their intellectual and financial capital for the benefit of humanity. The XPRIZE Foundation conducts competitions in four Prize Groups: Education & Global Development; Energy & Environment; Life Sciences; and Exploration (Ocean and Deep Space). Prizes won include the $10 million Ansari XPRIZE for private, suborbital space flight; the $10 million Progressive Insurance Automotive XPRIZE for creating safe, affordable, production-capable vehicles that exceed 100 MPG energy equivalent (MPGe); and the $2 million Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander XCHALLENGE for advanced rocket development. Active prizes include the $30 million Google Lunar XPRIZE, the $10 million Archon Genomics XPRIZE, and the $1.4 million Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup XCHALLENGE. For more information, visit www.xprize.org.

ABOUT THE GOOGLE LUNAR XPRIZE

The $30 million Google Lunar XPRIZE is an unprecedented competition to challenge and inspire engineers and entrepreneurs from around the world to develop low-cost methods of robotic space exploration. To win the Google Lunar XPRIZE, a privately-funded team must successfully place a robot on the Moon’s surface that explores at least 500 meters (1/3 of a mile) and transmits high definition video and images back to Earth. The first team to do so will claim a $20 million Grand Prize, while the second team will earn a $5 million Prize. Teams are also eligible to win a $1 million award for stimulating diversity in the field of space exploration and as much as $4 million in bonus prizes for accomplishing additional technical tasks such as moving ten times as far, surviving the frigid lunar night, or visiting the site of a previous lunar mission. To date, more than 20 teams from a dozen countries around the world have registered to compete for the prize. The Google Lunar XPRIZE is available to be claimed until the end of the year 2015.

ABOUT THE LEGO GROUP

The LEGO Group is a privately held, family-owned company based in Billund, Denmark. It was founded in 1932, and today, the group is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of play materials for children, employing approximately 5,600 people globally. The LEGO Group is committed to the development of children’s creative and imaginative abilities. LEGO products can be purchased in more than 130 countries. For more information, please visit www.lego.com.

ABOUT LEGO MINDSTORMS

In 1998, The LEGO Group spearheaded the consumer robotics category the company with the launch of the LEGO® MINDSTORMS® Robotics Invention System, that introduced children to the world of robotics, and offering the ability to create their own intelligent, interactive, autonomous LEGO robots. The LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT robotics toolkits allow children of all ages to design, build, and program their own robots using LEGO building elements, customized hardware, and an easy-to-use icon-based graphical programming language. For more information, please visit mindstorms.lego.com.

ABOUT WIRED / CONDE NAST

Wired.com is your essential daily guide to what's next, delivering the most original and complete take you'll find anywhere on innovation's impact on technology, science, business and culture. Wired.com's award-winning news reporting, unique commentary, authoritative reviews and practical hands-on tutorials make it the go-to site for thoughtful and comprehensive coverage of innovation's impact on all aspects of our lives. Join 14 million of the smartest readers on the planet. Wired.com is part of the Condé Nast Digital Business Group, comprised of Wired.com, Arstechnica.com, Newyorker.com, Golfdigest.com and Reddit.com.

ABOUT FIRST®

Accomplished inventor Dean Kamen founded FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. Based in Manchester, N.H., FIRST designs accessible, innovative programs to build self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills while motivating young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology, and engineering. With support from three out of every five Fortune 500 companies and close to $15 million in college scholarships, the not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC® ) and FIRST® Tech Challenge (FTC® ) for high-school students, FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL® ) for 9 to 14-year-olds, (9 to 16-year-olds outside the U.S. and Canada) and Junior FIRST® LEGO® League (Jr.FLL™) for 6 to 9-year-olds. Gracious Professionalism™ is a way of doing things that encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community. To learn more about FIRST, go to www.usfirst.org.

FIRST®, the FIRST® logo, FIRST® Robotics Competition, FRC®, FIRST® Tech Challenge, and FTC® are registered trademarks, and Gracious Professionalism™ is a common law trademark of the United States Foundation for Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST®). LEGO® and MINDSTORMS® are registered trademarks of The LEGO Group. FIRST® LEGO® League, Junior FIRST® LEGO® League, FLL®, BODY FORWARD®, and Jr.FLL™ are jointly held trademarks of FIRST and The LEGO Group. 

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