If you ever spent hours playing with those brightly-colored little blocks of plastic — or if you watch your kids do it today — consider heading to Trident Tech on Saturday for the FIRST LEGO League Lowcountry State Regional Qualifier, where 30 teams of middle-schoolers aged 9-14 will compete in an Odyssey of the Mind-type challenge centered around nanotechnology. FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is a nonprofit group that aims to do exactly what its name states, and they've paired with LEGO since 1998 to provide an opportunity for youngsters to design, construct, and program robots in the manner of professional engineers. This year's theme, "Nano Quest: Exploring existing sciences at the molecular level," leaves one wondering whether FIRST is just encouraging youngsters or if they're secretly searching for the next John Connor. Only Dean Kamen knows for sure...
CONCERT MUSIC — Dancing brooms not included
Charleston Music Fest
Fri. Jan. 12
$25, $50 (includes reception)
Dock Street Theatre
135 Church St.
As part of the College of Charleston's ongoing commitment to promoting chamber music, the highly-decorated instructors at CofC are taking part in the yearlong Charleston Music Fest. January's big show, "Fantasia," features CofC music teachers violinist Lee-Chin Siow and cellist Natalia Khoma (pictured above) performing with pianist Volodymyr Vynnytsky, who currently serves as the Music Director at the Music and Art Center in New York. The trio will tackle five works by five different composers: Haydn's Piano Trio in G Major, Brahms' Hungarian Dance No. 2 for cello and piano, Chopin's Fantasia for piano in F minor, Op. 49, Ravel's Tzigane for violin, and Smetana's Piano trio in G minor. Visit the website to purchase advance tickets.
CONCERT MUSIC — Black and white and dead all over
Death on the Downbeat
Sat. Jan. 13
77 Calhoun St.
It's been a roller coaster of a season for the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, but through every challenge that's popped onto the tracks, they've kept right on rollin', continuing with their unique programming. Death on the Downbeat is another promising entry in the McCrady's Restaurant Charleston Pops Series, as the CSO plays music from Perry Mason, Casablanca, Cinderella, and Slaughter on Tenth Avenue behind the San Francisco-based Magic Circle Mime Co., who make their Charleston debut in the tale of a murdered guest conductor and the (silent) whirlwind of activity created by his death.
THEATRE — New Year's evolution
Inherit the Wind
Jan. 12, 13, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26, 27 at 8 p.m.
Jan. 14 and 21 at 3 p.m.
$25, $22/seniors and students
Footlight Players Theatre
20 Queen St.
The Footlight Players are in the middle of their 75th season, which they're celebrating by bringing back some of their most popular productions of years past. Inherit the Wind, an award-winning play written in 1955 by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee, centers on the trial of a high school science teacher who was thrown in jail for his evolutionary teachings. Footlight originally produced the play in both 1958 and 1978; this time around it's directed by Bill Stewart and stars Ken Thomas, John Edwards, Sean Marino, and a host of others. Longtime Charleston theatergoers ought to enjoy seeing the subtle changes that will undoubtedly stem from tackling the debate that rages on today.
SPORTS — A little dirt don't hurt
$20-$15, $5/child (all tickets are $2 more day of event)
North Charleston Coliseum
5001 Coliseum Dr.
According to the commercials that have been running endlessly on Fox for weeks, it's been almost a decade since the United States Hot Rod Monster Jam came to the Lowcountry. It's going to be an ADD paradise in the Coliseum this week as about 25 different activities for motorheads of all ages are spread throughout the facility, not to mention the thousands of yards of dirt that are sculpted into tracks for the 10,000-pound customized behemoth autos to race on. Even the most casual NASCAR fan will appreciate seeing these beasts up close and personal, and hey, single ladies who bitch about the lack of available men in Charleston — the Monster Jam will serve up buckets of 'em!