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03-083
For Release: December 12, 2003

Sallie A. Keith
Media Relations Office
216-433-5795
sallie.a.keith@nasa.gov

NASA HELPS LOCAL STUDENTS AND THEIR ROBOTS PREPARE FOR LIFE ON MARS

Getting to Mars may be a challenge for today's space scientists but colonizing the planet is more than a dream for the next generation of explorers. Students participating in the 2003 FIRST LEGO League Robotics Competition are preparing to face the challenge of "Mission Mars" at the Northeast Ohio Regional Competition this Saturday, December 13. The competition will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Max Hayes Vocational School, 4600 Detroit Avenue, Cleveland.

NASA's Glenn Research Center sponsored middle school students from the Science Engineering Mathematics and Aerospace Academy (SEMAA) program at Cuyahoga Community College, along with teams from Alimira Elementary School, Audubon School, Brooklawn Elementary School, Douglas MacArthur Elementary School, Robert H. Jamison Computech, Tremont School, Whitney Young Middle School, Iowa-Maple Elementary School, and Mary B. Martin all from Cleveland, Ohio. Glenn provided monetary support and training opportunities in its' Aeronautics Education Laboratory.

Each fall, FIRST LEGO League unveils its annual challenge to students grades 5-8. The challenge requires students to learn, understand and apply scientific, engineering, strategic and analytical concepts in order to come up with a solution. Teams have eight weeks to build their robots from identical kits received from the FIRST organization.

The competitor's LEGO robots will be scored on their ability to: exit the base, launch a canister, clear dust from the solar panel, connect habitation modules, complete an alliance habitation module, free a rover stuck on a sand dune, move three ice cores to base, move boulders into the launch circle, and move across rugged terrain. In addition to their robots performance, teams are scored on a research challenge, a technical presentation and their ability to work as a team.

Teams scoring well in the regional competition will advance to the state championship at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, January 16 and 17, 2004.

Glenn has a long history of supporting FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), and SEMAA, a program established in 1993 by Glenn and Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland to foster understanding and enthusiasm in school-age children for science, math and technology fields.

The FIRST LEGO League is considered the "little league" of the FIRST Robotics Competition. The FIRST Robotics Competition will launch in January 2004 with the Buckeye Regional taking place March 25-27.

For more information on FIRST Robotics Competitions for all ages visit http://www.usfirst.org

For more information on Glenn's educational programs visit http://www.grc.nasa.gov/WWW/OEP/

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