Update on Arkansas Lego League State Championship Tournament

Organizers for the 13th Annual Arkansas FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL) State Championship recently shared some updated information about the event. The event will be held on Saturday, February 25, 2012, at the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock. According to an updated news release, the event is free and open to the public.  It was also noted that press availability and escorts will be from 2-4 p.m. on the day of the event.

For more information, please visit http://www.arkansaslegoleague.org.

Lego Championship




Meredith Novak

Arkansas FIRST®

(870) 404-3260


Arkansas FIRST® LEGO® League 

State Championship Tournament 

Thirty-two FLL teams of elementary and middle school students 

qualify to compete at the Clinton Center on February 25, 2012 

Mountain Home, AR (February 15, 2012) – The Science and Technology Group, Inc., in partnership with Baxter Healthcare Corporation, brings the 13th Annual Arkansas FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL) State Championship to the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, Arkansas on February 25, 2012.

FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is an organization founded by inventor Dean Kamen to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology. Teams of up to ten 9 to14 year-old children have explored the topic of food safety and examine the possible points of contamination our food encounters and find ways to prevent or combat these contaminates.

In the “Food Factor” Challenge, teams built, tested, and programmed an autonomous robot using LEGO MINDSTORMS® NXT to solve a set of food safety missions as well as researched, developed, and shared their innovative food safety solutions. Throughout their experience, teams operated under FLL’s signature set of Core Values. By embracing the Core Values, participants learned that friendly competition and mutual gain are not separate goals, and that helping one another is the foundation of teamwork.

All Arkansas FLL teams were required to compete at an Arkansas Regional Tournament. The top thirty-two teams have advanced and will showcase six months of research and design at the 13th Annual Arkansas FIRST® LEGO® League State Championship Tournament to be held at the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock.

FLL is an international program for 9 to 14 year-old children created in a partnership between FIRST® and The LEGO® Group in 1998 based on their common belief that fun and learning go hand-in-hand, and that an inspired mind can accomplish anything.

Each September, FIRST® announces the annual challenge to teams, engaging them in authentic scientific research and hands-on robotics design.

“Every FIRST® LEGO® League challenge helps students discover how imagination and

Creativity, combined with science and technology, can solve real-world problems,” says

Dean Kamen, FIRST® founder.

Using LEGO MINDSTORMS® bricks, motors, gears and software, children work alongside adult mentors to design, build, and program robots to solve real-world challenges. The competition season culminates at high energy sports-like tournaments.

For more information about the tournament, go to http://www.arkansaslegoleague.org

To learn more about FIRST, go to http://www.usfirst.org/

To learn more about the “Food Factor” Challenge, go to http://firstlegoleague.org/challenge/2011foodfactor

The Arkansas Environmental Educator Association is now accepting presentation and workshop proposals for the 2012 EE Expo.  The Expo will be held Friday, July 27, 2012 at the Fayetteville Town Center in Fayetteville, AR. The theme for this year’s EE EXPO is “NATURE EDUCATION – BACK TO YOUR ROOTS”

Presentations and workshops topics may include,  but are not limited to, current EE projects, EE programs, and EE opportunities occurring in Arkansas.

  • Sessions lengths are 60-minute presentations, or 60-minute hands-on workshops
  • Deadline to submit proposals is Friday, March 16, 2012
  • Proposals will be reviewed and acceptance notifications will go out by May 1, 2012


Interested presenters should fill out the attached form and return it to Brad Robertson at info@arkansasee.org or Lynne Hehr at lhehr@uark.edu by the March 16, 2012 deadline.AEEA 2012 EE Expo proposal form[1]

Dr. Kimbrell on PCSSD

Dr. Kimbrell said it’s in the best interest of the unions and the district to work together on a “fiscally sound school district for 2012-2013 that can carry forward.”

Guess said the district must “honor” the union because it is made up teachers and bus drivers. He said much of the blame must fall upon previous administrators for allowing those fringe benefits.

The SBE agreed to classify the district in fiscal distress for the second reason of declining balances.


Goff said he’s found $16.2 million in expenses for fringe benefits called for in the union agreements with the district.

Board member Vicki Saviers questioned extra money paid to teachers to take classes that in many cases are taught by other teachers for “professional growth.”

Guess said these classes don’t count toward professional development hours. Upon questioning from Saviers, he said there is no proof that these classes help student learning.

Guess said there are many compensation items for personnel that are above and beyond what is required by law. He said he will request that the unions re-open negotiation on the contracts. He said he hopes to point out that the situation would be “fatal” if there are no changes. He said he has a plan for “unilateral implementation” of a plan without a successful negotiation. He said he hopes to find $7 million in savings from the $16 million in extra compensation.

Guess said returning to a 7-period day in middle will save a substantial number of positions in the middle school. He said such a change would help with the implementation of Common Core.

“I want to reassure parents that we have plans for a very good academic year in 2012-2013,” he said. “We are going forward aggressively and confidently. I’m excited. ”

But he said everyone needs to realize the dire financial situation.

Board member Joe Black said planning by the previous administration at PCSSD would have helped. He said one-tenth of the good financial planning by Guess and Goff presented today on the front end would have prevented such a dire situation.

“This is a preventable disease,” Black said.

Guess said the frequent turnover in administration at PCSSD has left the district “without a rudder.” He said his experience in Arkansas schools has helped. He said he understands the constitutional requirements for funding schools and how that affects budgets.


The ADE has identified  the PCSSD as being in fiscal distress for another reason: declining balance. The district is already in fiscal distress because of audit findings and last year was taken over by the state.

Dr. Jerry Guess, PCSSD superintendent, said if nothing is done for next school year that the district would spend $13 million more than it takes in.

Bill Goff, the chief financial officer for the PCSSD, said he agrees with Dr. Kimbrell that it would be beneficial to change the law allowing the state keep control of a district in fiscal distress for 5 years rather than the currently allowed 2 years. He said this would increase the chances that financial changes would remain for the long term.

Goff said small schools in the district raise operational costs.

Part of the district’s initial proposal was reducing the number of positions by 77. Goff said he hopes to cover most of that with attrition. But he said that initial plan only covers about $6 million. He said the PCSSD needs to cut another $7 million.









ABC rules

ADE funds ABC preschools but DHS regulates them. DHS drafted pending rules regarding the teaching of religion in ABC funded programs. The ADE is asking that the draft rules be sent out for a public comment period.

Board member Sam Ledbetter said he interpreted the proposal as saying that no religious instruction be taught during the 7 hour funded period but it was OK to be taught outside of that.

DHS General Counsel Breck Hopkins said the case law isn’t clear on this matter. Ledbetter asked if it would be upheld at the 8th Circuit. Hopkins said it would depend on which panel heard the case. He said the proposal is an attempt to get it right.

Board Chairman Ben Mays asked why not ban the teaching of religion from when a child is dropped off until when he is picked up. Hopkins said that could be too restrictive as to violate the freedom to exercise religion.

The board agreed to put it out for public comment with the understanding that it very well could be changed.