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National Instruments hosts Robolab Mania!

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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! last 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.

NI vice president of product marketing and academic relations Ray Almgren said Robolab was a fundamental NI academic initiative designed to introduce young children to engineering concepts, such as basic computer programming, robotics and automation.

"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 the software to train nearly 200 teachers who have helped more than 4500 Central Texas students bring robotic inventions to life.

Highlights from this year's 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.

Robolab 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 4500 in the Central Texas area have benefited from this technology.

For LEGO Mindstorms for Schools product information, visit www.pitsco.com. For more information about the NI Robolab program, visit www.ni.com/robolab.

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