Lancaster High Eagle Robotics Team's 2012 FIRST competition robot, nicknamed "X-1," demonstrated its prowness at shooting a basketball into one of four hoops during rollout ceremonies on stage Feb. 17. › View Larger Image
High School Teams Roll Out Robots for FIRST Games
Three high school robotics teams that are co-sponsored by NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center and a number of other community groups and businesses recently rolled out their robotic creations for the 2012 FIRST Robotics Competition.
The Robolopes team from Antelope Valley High School in Lancaster displayed and demonstrated their creation for the 2012 games before friends and family members in the school's library Feb. 16; Lancaster High School's Eagle Robotics did likewise in ceremonies in the school's auditorium the following day, and Tehachapi High School's Cyber Penguins followed up with an informal rollout of their robot Feb. 18 in the school's cafeteria.
NASA Dryden provided $11,000 in funding for each of the three teams to aid in expenses associated with building the robots, entry fees and travel expenses to the competitions. Overall, NASA is providing almost $1.4 million to student robotics teams in 37 states to participate in the FIRST competition this spring.
Each FIRST team receives an identical kit of parts and has six weeks to design and build a robot. Other than dimension and weight limitations and other technical restrictions, the look and function of the robot is up to each team. NASA volunteer mentors support many teams throughout the process, helping them to explore potential solutions to robotics problems and understand the real-world challenges faced by engineers and researchers.
The competition is structured like a professional athletic event and teams compete in an arena the size of a small basketball court. Robots must have offensive and defensive capabilities. Teams collaborate to complete tasks, while simultaneously preventing opposing teams from completing the same activity.
This year, 45 regional competitions will take place in the U.S., along with four additional international competitions in March and April. Teams that qualify at the regional competitions will have the opportunity to compete at the FIRST championship competition will be held in St. Louis April 25 - 28. Other teams that did not qualify at regional games are often invited by qualifying teams to join them in an alliance at the national championships.
Antelope Valley High's Robolopes are scheduled to compete in the San Diego regional March 2 – 4 and possibly the Los Angeles regional competition in Long Beach March 15 – 17. Lancaster High's Eagle Robotics is also scheduled to compete in the San Diego games, as well as regional events in Salt Lake City March 15 – 17 and Denver March 22 – 24. Tehachapi High's Cyber Penguins are headed to regional competitions in Seattle March 22 – 24 and in Las Vegas April 5 – 7.
FIRST -- For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology -- is a long-standing program established in 1989 by Dean Kamen to inspire curiosity and create interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) among high school students. Encouraging students to pursue STEM studies and careers is the major focus of NASA's education programs.
of the Lancaster and Antelope Valley high school robots demonstrating their capability to compete in the FIRST Robotics Competition's "Rebound Rumble."
NASA photos by Tom Tschida
Brother and sister Andrew and Alexis Bartels unveil the Tehachapi High Cyber Penguins 2012 robot during rollout Feb. 18. › View Larger Image
Alan Brown, public affairs
NASA Dryden Flight Research Center