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March 29, 2000

John Bluck

NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA

Phone: 650/604-5026 or 650/604-9000

E-mail: jbluck@mail.arc.nasa.gov

RELEASE: 00-24AR

NOTE TO EDITORS AND NEWS DIRECTORS: News media are invited to the FIRST Robotics-NASA Ames Western Regional robot games for students March 30 to April 1, 2000, at the San José State University Event Center, 290 South 7th Street., San Jose, CA. Students and their advisors will be available for interviews immediately following each robot competition. To reach the Event Center, take Interstate 280 to San José and exit north on 7th Street. Broadcasters, please see the end of this release for April 1 satellite feed information.

NASA TO SPONSOR WESTERN REGIONAL ROBOT GAMES FOR STUDENTS

Student-made robots will form "alliances" to lift large balls and put them into a container during a western regional competition March 30 to April 1, 2000, at the San José State University Event Center, San José, CA. The event is sponsored by NASA’s Ames Research Center, located in California’s Silicon Valley; other regionals have been scheduled elsewhere, nationwide.

Organizers say that the San José "robot games" will attract teams from at least 46 high schools in California, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Montana, Oregon and Washington. During the competition, robots will not only put balls into a triangular target, but will do "robot chin-ups."

"This year NASA is proud to sponsor 108 teams nationwide," said Mark León of NASA Ames. "The endeavors in which the students are engaging for this competition are truly impressive, and we expect that in the future some of these students will be the engineers and designers of our robotic planetary exploration program," he stated.

NASA is working cooperatively with a non-profit group, "For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology," (FIRST), of Manchester, NH, which organizes the contests. Organizers say the overall goal of the robot games is to allow students to interact with engineers so that the youths can see the connection between classroom instruction and the real world. Each year FIRST develops the competition and supplies "a problem" and a kit of parts to teams of students.

Youths and their advisors design and construct remote-control robots in six weeks. Advisors are often professional engineers from private industry, government and universities.

Teams from ten FIRST regions have been scheduled to take part in seven regional finals across the nation, including the Western Regional in San José, CA. Four of the regions are "NASA" regions: the NASA Langley/Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Region, the Southeast Region, the Lone Star Region and the NASA Ames Region. The Ames region includes Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

Bay Area high schools expected to participate in the Western Regional games include Aptos, Aptos, CA; Berkeley, Berkeley, CA; Monta Vista, Cupertino, CA; Los Altos, Los Altos, CA; Mills, Millbrae, CA; Newark Memorial, Newark, CA; Castlemont, Oakland, CA; Palo Alto and Gunn in Palo Alto, CA; Foothill, Pleasanton, CA; Blackford, Broadway, Foothill, Lincoln, and Oak Grove in San José, CA; Vintage, Napa, CA; De Anza, Richmond, CA; and Woodside, Woodside, CA.

Teams may also compete in the national finals April 6 – April 8 at Walt Disney World’s EPCOT Center, Orlando, FL. The Ames robotics website can be found at: http://robotics.nasa.gov/first.html, and the FIRST website is at: http://www.usfirst.org lists include more details about the robotic contests.

FIRST was started in 1989 by inventor Dean Kamen to persuade American youth that engineering and technology are exciting fields. There is no charge for admission to the NASA-FIRST robotics events at the San José State University Event Center, but street parking is limited. The center's seating capacity is 4,000. Tom Dyson, telephone (650/604-6601), and Joseph Hering (650/604-2008), both of Ames, have more information about the regional robotics games.

San José Schedule (subject to change). Updates will be posted on the web at http://www.usfirst.org/2000comp/CA/agenda.html

Thursday, March 30 - Media representatives can cover team arrivals, uncrating of robots and other activities from 8:00 a.m. to noon PST. Practice rounds will be held 11:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. PST.

Friday, March 31 – 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. PST, competition and other activities will take place. An award ceremony will be at 5:00 p.m. PST.

Saturday, April 1 – 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. PST, competition and other activities will take place. An award ceremony will be at 3:00 p.m. PST. The competition is also scheduled to air live on Saturday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. PST on NASA TV which is available by satellite on GE-2, Transponder 9C at 85 degrees West longitude, vertical polarization, with a frequency of 3880 MHz, and audio of 6.8 MHz. Please check this Internet address for TV schedule changes:

http://www.nasa.gov/ntv/breaking.html

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