National Instruments Hosts RoboLab Mania! to Exhibit Students’ LEGO Robots
Nearly 500 Central Texas Students Showcase Technological Creativity with Robots Based on NI LabVIEWMay 17, 2005 Nearly 500 students from nine Central Texas school districts and all grade levels gathered with friends and families to display their original LEGO robotic creations at the fifth annual National Instruments RoboLab Mania! on Saturday at NI Corporate headquarters. The event signified the culmination of a yearlong project for the students who worked with teachers and NI engineering mentors to create robots based on NI RoboLab software and LEGO Mindstorms technology.RoboLab is a fundamental NI academic initiative designed to introduce young children to engineering concepts, such as basic computer programming, robotics and automation, said Ray Almgren, NI vice president of product marketing and academic relations. With this innovative technology, students have fun learning science and math while using their creativity to solve real-world problems. The RoboLab program combines software based on National Instruments LabVIEW technology and familiar LEGO bricks for students to create multifunctional robots that can solve or demonstrate real-world challenges and tasks. Each summer, NI grants scholarships to local teachers to participate in RoboLab training sessions at the University of Texas at Austin, where they learn how to integrate the hands-on nature of RoboLab into their classrooms and curricula. Since the RoboLab inception, NI employees have used RoboLab software to train nearly 200 teachers who have helped more than 4,500 Central Texas students bring robotic inventions to life. RoboLab has increased my third- and fourth-grade students understanding of programming and engineering just as much as it has increased mine, said Marilyn Fowler, a science specialist at Oak Springs Elementary School in Austin, Texas. With such excitement from my students wanting to build and play, it is clear that they are using their minds to problem solve, whether they know it or not. The RoboLab project is a great way for students to put theory into practice while learning a multitude of skills.Highlights from this years RoboLab Mania! event included a robo-jungle populated by robo-animals, each showcasing a specific survival skill, as well as robots designed to complete tasks for individuals with disabilities and a programmed theme park that operated at the push of a button. About RoboLabRoboLab is a joint initiative of National Instruments, Tufts University and LEGO Educational Division designed to help teachers interactively demonstrate engineering concepts in a fun environment to students of all ages. As many as 500,000 students worldwide and more than 4,500 in the Central Texas area have benefited from this technology. The software is based on the NI LabVIEW graphical development environment, which engineers and scientists worldwide use in a wide range of applications, from making measurements in space to designing next-generation automobiles. For LEGO Mindstorms for Schools product information, visit www.pitsco.com. About National InstrumentsNational Instruments is a technology pioneer and leader in virtual instrumentation a revolutionary concept that has changed the way engineers and scientists in industry, government and academia approach measurement and automation. Leveraging PCs and commercial technologies, virtual instrumentation increases productivity and lowers costs for test, control and design applications through easy-to-integrate software, such as NI LabVIEW, and modular measurement and control hardware for PXI, PCI, USB and Ethernet. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, NI has more than 3,500 employees and direct operations in nearly 40 countries. In 2004, the company sold products to more than 25,000 companies in 90 countries. For the past six years, FORTUNE magazine has named NI one of the 100 best companies to work for in America. For more information, Contact National Instruments or visit their web site at www.ni.com/robolab.
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