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Editor's note: this article was originally posted on NETL's website.

More than 1,000 K-12 students and their parents learned about NETL’s work to develop innovative technology solutions through hands-on educational exhibits at a recent international First LEGO League competition in Fairmont, West Virginia.

First LEGO League is a global robotics competition program that helps children expand their knowledge, develop beneficial learning habits and build their confidence as they tackle research, problem-solving, coding and engineering challenges. Fairmont State University welcomed more than 1,000 participants from 11 countries and 15 U.S. states to its campus July 12-14 for the Mountain State Invitational competition, co-organized by NASA’s Independent Verification & Validation facility.

NETL hosted a booth highlighting its work during the Mountain State Invitational’s STEM Carnival, which celebrated West Virginia’s science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) resources. Don Ferguson, Ph.D., and Justin Weber, both scientists with the Lab’s Thermal Sciences team, invited students to participate in a variety of engaging educational activities — including a desktop wind tunnel, an electric-generating bicycle, a combustion experiment, a Geographical Information Systems demonstration and a high-speed imaging exhibit.

“NETL’s Morgantown campus is an important part of West Virginia’s STEM resources,” said Kate Nielsen, who oversees NETL’s STEM education and outreach program. “This event is a terrific opportunity to showcase the Lab’s fossil energy research and further our role as an energy educator.”

NETL seeks to inspire and educate the next generation of researchers, engineers and scientists who will one day work to boost the nation’s energy independence through technological solutions. K-12 outreach is just one of the ways the Lab encourages excellence in STEM, supports critical and creative thinking skills, fosters positive attitudes toward STEM, delivers important and relevant educational content and builds students’ confidence.