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Jonas Dino                                                                                                       April 15, 2004

NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.

Phone: 650/604-5612 or 650/207-3280

E-mail: jonas.dino@nasa.gov


NOTE TO EDITORS: 04-33AR

NASA SPONSORS SEVENTH ANNUAL BOTBALL ROBOTICS COMPETITION

Future engineers and computer scientists will demonstrate their robotics skills at the seventh annual northern California Botball Robotics Tournament at the Leavey Center on the Santa Clara University campus on Saturday, April17, 2004 starting at 10:00 a.m. PDT.

News media are invited to attend the tournament.

Date:            Saturday, April 17, 2004

Schedule:      10:00 a.m. PDT        Seeding rounds

                       2:30 p.m. PDT          Double elimination rounds

Who:             31 middle and high school robotics teams from 23 Bay area and northern California schools.

Where:          The Leavey Center at Santa Clara University, 500 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, Calif.

Admission:  Free and open to the public

Botball is the robotics program designed to engage students in learning science, technology, engineering and math. Students are given six weeks to design, build and program two microcontrolled robots with LEGO structures to compete in a fast-paced regional tournament.

"A major focus in the NASA mission is to inspire the next generation of explorers, and thus we are major sponsors of this non-profit educational robotics program," said T.L. Grant, deputy manager of the NASA Robotics Education Project. "We think that the hands-on experience with building and testing autonomous robots, as is required for the Botball competitions, is key to learning the technology and inspiring the creative thinking we will need in future scientists and engineers."

By building robots, students are exposed to high-tech equipment, gain knowledge of computer programming and develop team problem-solving skills. Students also can compete in the creation of Web sites to document their team progress.

For this year's competition, teams sort through a playing field of colored cups, and points are scored by placing the yellow ones on their side of the 4-foot by 8-foot playing field. Additional points can be earned by placing balls in designated baskets. Unlike many robotics competitions, robots are programmed in the C programming language and use no remote controls; game play is based solely on the skill of the team programmers.

The tournament is presented by the KISS Institute for Practical Robotics in conjunction with NASA Ames Research Center, located in California's Silicon Valley, and Santa Clara University. NASAÕs Robotics Education Project is supported through NASA's Office of Space Science, NASA Headquarters, Washington, D.C. and is directed by David Lavery, program executive for Solar System Exploration.

To view participating teams, visit:

http://www.botball.org/php/standard/region.html?reg_id=16

For more information about Botball, visit:

http://robotics.nasa.gov

http://www.botball.org

For more information about the KISS Institute, visit:

http://www.kipr.org/

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