Wednesday, April 21, 2010

MoonBots: A Google Lunar X PRIZE LEGO® MINDSTORMS® Challenge Officially Launched at the 2010 FIRST World Championship

The X PRIZE Foundation, Google Inc., LEGO Systems, National Instruments, and WIRED’s GeekDad announced “MoonBots: A Google Lunar X PRIZE LEGO® MINDSTORMS® Challenge” at the 2010 FIRST World Championship last week in Atlanta, Georgia. The new contest will challenge small teams comprised of children and adults to design, program, and construct robots that perform simulated lunar missions similar to those required to win the $30 million Google Lunar X PRIZE, a private race to the Moon designed to enable commercial exploration of space while engaging the global public. It is the hope of these partnering organizations that the MoonBots Challenge will help stimulate the learning of robotics and enhance team building skills while exciting youth and their families about their potential roles in the new Moon race.

During the 2010 FIRST Championship, a hands-on MoonBots exhibit was showcased for the general public to learn about the competition. It was very well received by both youth and adults. Participants of FIRST LEGO League (FLL) also had a great appreciation for the challenge. FLL is a global program created to get children excited about science and technology that engages them to explore their problem solving and engineering skills. Each year, these youth work in teams to build robots. They also put together a strategic plan to invent a solution to a real world problem. Many FLL team members and mentors relayed to X PRIZE staff that MoonBots is an exciting challenge to get involved in during the summer month’s down time because they can continue to build their engineering skills when their teams do not typically meet.

Listed below are some pictures of FLL team members at the MoonBots Launch:

All partners are thrilled that FLL teams want to register their teams in the MoonBots Challenge. In addition, MoonBots partners want to emphasize that this challenge is open to the general public and to youth organizations throughout the world. Boy Scouts, Girls Scouts, 4-H and parent-child teams are all encouraged to register.

Here are some pictures of the general public building and playing with LEGO MINDSTORMS:

MoonBots Challenge Phase Information
Phase I: April 15, 2010- May 15, 2010
Using free software, youth-adult teams will create a design for a robot they think could explore a LEGO lunar surface and mirror the mission requirements of the Google Lunar X PRIZE. Each team must also create an original video essay that discusses their thoughts about lunar exploration, including their expectations for the most important discovery to be made by future missions conducted by Google Lunar X PRIZE teams and government lunar missions. Twenty teams will be selected to compete in the next phase of the Challenge—each of those twenty teams will receive a LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT 2.0 kit, enough LEGO bricks to build their replica lunar surface, and two-year subscriptions to WIRED Magazine for each team member!

Phase II: June 21, 2010- August 14, 2010
The twenty finalists selected at the end of Phase I will put their designs to the test, using the provided LEGO components to make their digital designs become reality. Teams will be challenged to build a lunar surface out of LEGO materials and complete simulated mission tasks such as discovering Water Ice, discovering Helium 3, surviving the lunar night and taking pictures of heritage artifacts on the Moon. At the contest’s exciting conclusion, each team will have one shot to meet the MoonBots Challenge during a timed webcast monitored by our judges. A panel of celebrity and expert judges will select our three overall winners, each of whom will receive exciting prizes.

1st Place Prize- Trip for the team and family members to visit LEGO Headquarters in Denmark and a 2011 FIRST FRC/FTC Registration Fees + Kits

2nd Place- iPOD Touch to each team member and a 2011 FIRST FRC/FTC Registration Fees + Kits

3rd Place- 2011 FIRST FRC/FTC Registration Fees + Kits

We hope you'll join us in promoting the MoonBots Challenge to your friends, colleagues and families. To learn more about the already existing registered teams and/or the competition itself, please visit the MoonBots website at

The X PRIZE Foundation wants to give a sincere thank you to our partners; LEGO, Google, National Instruments, WIRED and Geek Dad for making this MoonBots Challenge happen!

By: Chanda Gonzales, Manager, Education, Google Lunar X PRIZE