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Sally Harrington
Media Relations Office

March 19, 2007
Students Ready To "Rack 'N' Roll" At Robotics Competition
CLEVELAND -- The sixth annual FIRST (an acronym for "For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology") Buckeye Regional Robotics Competition will take place at the Cleveland State University Wolstein Center in Cleveland on March 22-24. This intense, exciting, fast-paced event is open to the public at no charge.

Hundreds of high school students on 59 teams from Greater Cleveland and elsewhere in Ohio, as well as Michigan, Indiana, Pennsylvania, New York, Wisconsin, Puerto Rico and Canada will participate in this year's game, "Rack 'n' Roll."

While this competition is not your usual sporting event, it involves all the elements of a traditional sports team -- dexterity, skill, strategy for winning and working as a team. It combines the excitement of sport with science and technology to create a unique sport for the mind.

After a day of practice rounds to get the kinks out of their robots, qualifying matches will be played all day Friday and Saturday morning. Saturday afternoon the final rounds determine the Buckeye Regional champion.

Each match will start with a 15-second autonomous period during which the robots move according to previous programming. During the remaining two minutes, they will be remotely guided by the students. The robots will scurry around the field scoring points for their side and deterring the opponent by placing various colored flotation rings on a structure in the center of the field containing 24 "spider legs."

Each year the game, scoring, playing field and strategy change, assuring that veteran and rookie teams alike will have an even chance to become the champion. After learning that information in January, each team receives an identical kit of parts from which to build their robot. They have only six weeks to do so -- a demonstration of their science, mathematics and technology skills.

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 with their mentors, the students gain knowledge of and experience in teamwork and time management and develop mentoring skills and self-confidence. This meaningful involvement with adults is an essential component for developing young people's potential.

There are no losers in the FIRST Robotics Competition. Whether teams win or lose the matches, they can still receive awards based on their overall performance, including problem solving, innovation, teamwork, community engagement, and fostering greater levels of respect and honor for science and technology.

NASA's Educational Programs Office through NASA's Glenn Research Center partnered with the Jennings Foundation, the Gund Foundation, and the Nord Family Foundation to provide financial support to 20 teams participating in the Buckeye Regional. Teams also received monetary support from corporate sponsors in their local areas. 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.

FIRST is supported by a strong network of national corporations, educational institutions and professional institutions. Locally, over 28 sponsors representing business, industry, academia and foundations joined Glenn Research Center in making the Buckeye Regional possible.

Knowing there are great opportunities for young people to build successful careers in science and technology, inventor Dean Kamen created FIRST to inspire students to pursue careers in those fields. It is FIRST's hope that these students' interest and participation in science and technology will help them succeed in life and benefit society.

Further information on the Buckeye Regional can be found at:

For information about the FIRST Robotics competition, go to:

For more information on NASA and agency programs on the web, visit:


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