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January 10, 2012

Rebecca Strecker, NASA News Chief
NASA Public Affairs Office
Stennis Space Center, MS 39529-6000
(228) 688-3249

Stennis Space Center Kicks Off 2012 FIRST Robotics Season

Forty-one teams from Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi high schools and 350 guests traveled to NASA's John C. Stennis Space Center on Jan. 7 for the kickoff of the 2012 FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics season.
During the event, team members, mentors, coaches, sponsors and parents watched a live broadcast from FIRST headquarters in Manchester, N.H., featuring FIRST founder Dean Kamen, former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, and will.i.am of The Black Eyed Peas to learn their 2012 competition challenge. Team members also received parts kits they will use in the next six weeks to build robots to meet the challenge.
This year marks the 21st FIRST Robotics Competition season. The FIRST Robotics Competition is designed to inspire students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Each year, teams across the nation are given identical parts kits and six weeks to build robots. The teams then use the robots to compete in regional events and a season-ending national tournament.
"You are our future science and engineering leaders, and America needs your energy and intellect," former President Bush told students gathered at 73 locations around the world to view the broadcast via NASA-TV or webcast.
"You've learned things today through this competition that will serve you for the rest of your life no matter what kind of work you choose to pursue," former President Clinton added.
"If FIRST succeeds, we'll have a rebirth of a society that believes in a future that can and has to be better than the past," Kamen emphasized. "We're going to make sure we build a 21st century, a future that's way more exciting than the 20th century."
For this year's "Rebound Rumble" theme, a pair of three-team alliances will compete on a 27-by-57-foot playing field equipped with higher and lower basketball goals at each end. Alliance teams will try to score as many basketballs in the goals as possible during the two-minute and 15-second match. Balls scored in higher hoops earn teams more points. Team alliances are awarded bonus points if their robots are balanced on bridges at the end of the match. A description of the "Rebound Rumble" game and video simulation of a match can be viewed online at: http://www.usfirst.org/roboticsprograms/frc/2012-rebound-rumble .
NASA and Stennis support FIRST Robotics Competition through mentors, volunteers and financial contributions. Interested mentors should call Katie Wallace at 228-688-7744 or e-mail katie.v.wallace@nasa.gov.
The 2012 Bayou Regional FIRST Robotics Competition is scheduled at the Pontchartrain Center in Kenner, La., March 15-17.
For information about the FIRST Robotics program, visit: http://www.usfirst.org/ .
For information about Stennis Space Center, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/centers/stennis/ .

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