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March 13, 2000

John Ira Petty
Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX
Phone: 281/483-5111

Release: J00-16

Robotics and Competition Hone Science, Teamwork Skills

The tasks sound simple enough – racing across a long playing field, scooping up balls and placing then in an overhead rack. The catch is that competitors can’t just do it themselves – they have to design robots to do it for them.

Thirty-seven high school student teams from 10 states will participate in the FIRST Robotics Competition at the AstroArena March 16 to 18 to see how well their robots stack up. Johnson Space Center and other NASA centers are supporting more than half the teams in the regional competition, through grants to help develop better science programs.

The FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition is in its ninth year. Teams had six weeks to design and build their robots. The competition is exciting, but the purpose behind it is to give students hands-on experience – in research, design, management and project teamwork. Each team has a business, institution or university partner.

On March 16 teams check in and practice. The following day Opening Ceremonies will be held at 9 a.m., followed by seeding rounds. Seeding rounds continue March 18, Saturday, from 9:30 a.m. to noon. Final rounds begin at 1 p.m., to be followed by the Awards Ceremony.

FIRST is a non-profit alliance of business, education and government organizations founded in 1989 to inspire youth in science, engineering and technology. More information on FIRST programs is available at Information on the regional competition is available from Lucia Sevcik at (281) 686-0465 or Steve Alaniz at (713) 667-9416.


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