The theme for FLL 2011 is Food Factor; details of the challenge for the tournament will be released on the 2nd of September, says the announcement on the FLL website.
Here is an abstract of this year’s theme from the website:
Can FIRST® LEGO® League teams improve the quality of food by finding ways to prevent food contamination? In the 2011 Food Factor Challenge, over 200,000 9-16* year olds from over 55 countries will explore the topic of food safety and examine the possible points of contamination our food encounters – from exposure to insects and creatures, to unsterile processing and transportation, to unsanitary preparation and storage – then find ways to prevent or combat these contaminates. In the Food Factor Challenge, teams will build, test, and program an autonomous robot using LEGO® MINDSTORMS® NXT to solve a set of Food Safety missions as well as research, develop, and share their innovative food safety solutions. Throughout their experience, teams will operate under FLL’s signature set of Core Values.
FLL themes in recent years have addressed important issues and significant scientific and technological advances: Power Puzzle in 2007 addressed energy crisis and conservation; Climate Connections in 2008 focused on environmental challenges; Smart Move in 2009 explored green modes for transportation; and Body Forward in 2010 introduced kids to advances in biomedical engineering. This year’s Food Factor challenge is yet another great choice by the FIRST organizers.
The cover story in the National Geographic magazine’s January 2011 issue reports that the world population is approaching 7 billion, and is expected to hit 9 billion around the year 2045.
The NGM article titled Population 7 Billion says:
With the population still growing by about 80 million each year, it is hard not to be alarmed. Right now on Earth, water tables are falling, soil is eroding, glaciers are melting, and fish stocks are vanishing. Close to a billion people go hungry each day…
With an additional 2 billion mouths to feed in a few decades from now, food shortage is a crisis that threatens to get worse with time. A significant percentage of the food produced in developing countries is wasted due to inadequate storage and transport facilities, pest attack, etc.
Around 200,000 kids from over 55 countries are expected to participate in FLL 2011. By exposing such a large number of highly motivated kids to real-life challenges such as food shortage, and challenging them to research and innovate solutions, FLL goes a long way in promoting an interest in science and technology among young students around the world.