The FIRST Robotics Competition is a national engineering contest which immerses high school students in the exciting world of engineering. Teaming up with engineers from businesses, universities and research institutions, the students get a hands-on, inside look at the engineering profession. In January, student teams across the country receive the same box-of-parts and have six weeks to design, construct and test their robot. The teams then compete in a spirited, no-holds-barred tournament complete with time clocks, referees and cheerleaders.
Sixty-six teams from Southern California, Hawaii, Colombia and Chile competed in the Los Angeles regional FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition on March 13 and 14. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, sponsored seven teams in this annual engineering and technology contest, which was held at the Long Beach Convention Center.
Winning teams for the overall regional competition were from Hope Chapel Academy, Hermosa Beach, California; Atascadero High School and Beverly Hills High School. Hawthorne High School received the competition's highest honor, the Regional Chairman's Award.
This year's challenge, "Recycle Rush" was a recycling-themed game played by two alliances of three robots each. Robots score points by stacking totes on scoring platforms, capping those stacks with recycling containers, and properly disposing of pool noodles, representing litter. In keeping with the recycling theme of the game, all game pieces used are reusable or recyclable by teams in their home locations or by FIRST at the end of the season.
Working with adult mentors, students have six weeks to design, build, program and test their robots to meet the season's engineering challenge. The teams then participate in one or more of 105 regional and district events that measure the effectiveness of each robot, the power of collaboration and the determination of students.
The participants are vying to compete in the FIRST Championship to be held April 22-25 in St. Louis, Missouri. FIRST is part of NASA's Robotics Alliance Project, which aims to expand the number of robotics systems experts available to NASA.
To find out more about how to participate in this exciting competition, click here.