Thursday, January 09, 2014

A donor has made a $10,000 contribution through the Fairmont State Foundation, Inc. in support of the West Virginia FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL) robotics tournament for 2014-2015. The NASA IV & V Educator Resource Center coordinates the statewide tournament that has been hosted in Fairmont by Fairmont State University’s College of Science and Technology.

Cherie Bharti of Morgantown officially presented the gift in support of the FLL tournament on Tuesday, Jan. 7, to Todd Ensign, Program Manager for the NASA IV&V Educator Resource Center and tournament director; FSU President Maria Rose; and Fairmont State Foundation President William Armistead.

“In over a dozen years conducting STEM outreach, this is the most generous donation any program I have been involved in has ever received,” Ensign said. “This funding will put FIRST® LEGO® League in a position to reach even more students precisely when we are shifting from a single statewide competition to five qualifying tournaments which feed into the final championship held at Fairmont State University. The timing simply couldn’t be better.”

Bharti’s son, Vijay, a student at Suncrest Middle School, and daughter, Dolly, a student at Morgantown High School, have participated in the competition and Bharti has been a FLL team coach for several years. She said she wanted to do something significant to help the tournament grow because it has been such a beneficial experience for her children and their teammates.

“I feel this is the best form of mental growth for kids who are excited but lost between games and education, by blending the two together,” Bharti said.

The FSU College of Science and Technology hosted the 2012-2013 robotics tournament on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013, on FSU’s main campus. Sponsors of this year’s challenge were NASA IV&V, FSU, WV Space Grant Consortium, Par Mar Stores, Thrasher Engineering and the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission.

“Fairmont State University is proud to support the West Virginia FIRST® LEGO® League tournament which provides an exciting opportunity for middle school students to gain hands-on experience in engineering and computer programming principles, as well as teamwork and problem solving,” said Dr. Maria Rose, FSU President. “The College of Science and Technology is honored to host the more than 1,000 visitors this event brings to our campus.”

In the “2013 NATURE’S FURY Challenge,” more than 228,000 children, ages 9 to 14, from more than 80 countries, explored the awe-inspiring storms, quakes, waves and more that are called natural disasters.

The 2014-2015 statewide championship tournament will take place in December 2014 on the FSU campus.

The FLL is part of the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST®) organization, an international nonprofit agency with the mission of inspiring the future workforce to appreciate the excitement and personal rewards of a career in science and technology. In partnership with LEGO®, the FLL is an international robotics program in which teams of young people assemble and compete with robots that are designed to accomplish tasks associated with a real-world challenge.