It’s been about three weeks since the MoonBots Google Lunar X PRIZE LEGO MINDSTORMS Challenge was announced and registrations continue to pour in. About 40 teams have submitted applications, with the bulk of applications coming from the United States. (Come on, rest of the world! Are you going to let the Americans walk away with this space race?)
Additionally, in order to accommodate more players, the minimum age restriction has been lowered from 13 to 9. The rule change offers a great opportunity for some robotics clubs that have younger members and also allows siblings of existing participants to join their brother or sister’s team.
According to William Pomerantz, Senior Director of Space Prizes at the X PRIZE Foundation, “Since we announced the MoonBots Challenge, the most consistent piece of feedback we’ve gotten is people telling us that their younger son or their little sister is extremely excited about the competition, and couldn’t we please revise the rules to allow younger students to join? So we looked at some of the work these young children were doing, and found that they are really capable of some amazing stuff. It seemed appropriate to let them participate as well–after all, the goal is to get as many people as possible to learn that robotics and the exploration of the Moon can both be really fun, as well as rewarding.”
Teams are made up of a captain (who must be at least 18) and three to five team members between the ages of nine and eighteen. The contest will challenge teams 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.