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Sally Harrington
Media Relations Office
(216)433-2037
Sally.V.Harrington@nasa.gov

March 3, 2006
 
MEDIA ADVISORY : 06-013
 
 
High School Teams "Aim High" in Robotics Competition
 
 
Hundreds of high school students will converge on the Cleveland State University Wolstein Center in Cleveland on March 9-11 for the fifth annual FIRST (an acronym for "For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology") Buckeye Regional Robotics Competition. The event is open to the public at no charge.

Competing in this exciting, fast-paced event are 42 teams from Ohio including the Greater Cleveland area, Michigan, Indiana, Pennsylvania, New York and Wisconsin. They will remotely maneuver the robots they designed and built--a demonstration of their science, mathematics, and technology skills--through a game resembling basketball.

This year's game is called "Aim High." During 2-minute and 10-second-long matches, robots scurry around the playing field scoring points by placing balls in various goals and returning to their starting point before the match ends. For the first ten seconds of the match they move autonomously, having been preprogrammed. For the remainder of the match they are guided remotely by the students.

Each year the game, scoring, playing field and strategy change to ensure that veteran and rookie teams have an even chance to become the champion. After that information is revealed to the teams across the country during a kick-off event, they receive identical kits of parts from which to build their robot and have six weeks to do so before shipping it to the location of the regional competition.

The teams in the Buckeye Regional will be reunited with their robots on Thursday, March 9 to put the finishing touches on them, play practice rounds to get the kinks out and prepare for the seeding matches to be played all day Friday, March 10, and Saturday morning, March 11. Saturday afternoon the final rounds will be played to determine the Buckeye Regional champion.

"For many of the students, the program results in an increased interest in science and math and leads to important decisions involving higher education and their future careers," said John Hairston, director of External Programs at NASA's Glenn Research Center, a primary sponsor of the event.

There are no losers in the FIRST Robotics Competition. Teaming with professionals from sponsoring corporations, colleges and government agencies, the young people learn to solve an engineering design problem in an intense and competitive way. Working side by side-by-side with their mentors, the students gain knowledge of and experience in teamwork and time management and develop mentoring skills and self-confidence.

For the past five years, the NASA Robotics Alliance Project has been supporting participation in FIRST by providing grants to high school teams as well as sponsoring FIRST Regional Competitions. Nine teams participating in the Buckeye Regional received NASA Sponsorship Awards through the Robotics Alliance Project. NASA's support of FIRST is part of its goal to inspire the next generation of explorers to take up the vision for space exploration.

Other teams benefited from donations made by the Jennings Foundation and the Gund Foundation. Teams also received monetary support from corporate sponsors in their local areas.

Over 35 sponsors representing business, industry, academia and foundations join Glenn Research Center in making this event possible.

FIRST was created by inventor Dean Kamen to inspire students to pursue careers in science and technology. To this end each year high school teams are challenged to design and build a robot to compete in a robotics competition. While this competition for high school students is not your usual sporting event, it involves all the elements of a traditional sports team--dexterity, skill, strategy for winning, working as a team. It combines the excitement of sport with science and technology to create a unique sport for the mind.

Further information on the Buckeye Regional can be found at:

http://www.firstbuckeye.org.


For information about the FIRST Robotics competition, go to:

http://www.usfirst.org.


For more information on NASA's Robotics Alliance Project, see:

http://robotics.nasa.gov/events/first.php


 

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