Students from 10 Peninsula and Middle Peninsula middle schools
will put their brains, engineering skills and computer knowledge to
the test this weekend in a NASA-sponsored robotics challenge.
Teams from schools in Newport News, Hampton, Poquoson,
Williamsburg-James City County and York and Gloucester counties
have designed, built and programmed self-operating robots using
During Saturday's competition at the Virginia Air and Space
Center in Hampton, those eight-inch tall robots will go head to
head on a four by eight-foot plywood playing field.
To successfully complete their mission, the student-built
machines have only two minutes to pick up "rock samples" while
fending off the competition.
Four round-robin tournaments start
at 10:15 a.m., February 13. Double elimination rounds are set for
the afternoon starting at 1:30. The playing field will be in the
gallery of the Virginia Air and Space Center (on the first floor
near the Apollo XII capsule.)
The Peninsula Robotics Challenge is designed to help
students advance math, science and engineering skills. Project
organizers also hope the nine-week program will encourage middle
school youngsters to pursue these areas in future studies. The
challenge was developed by the Learning Technologies Project at the
NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton and the New Horizons
Regional Education Center.
Saturday's competition is the culmination of an entire lesson
plan that integrated a variety of classroom subjects. It went
beyond the construction of the robot to include written and oral
presentations as well as a required mentorship involving local
elementary school students.
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