March 16, 2011
Near a testing chamber at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where a team of technicians are preparing and testing NASA's next Mars rover, students from across Southern California gathered to compete in a robotics challenge that simulated planetary exploration using table-top sized robots made out of Lego pieces.
The school teams spent months creating small Lego robots programmed with special software for this contest, which included placing sensors in "volcanoes," deploying habitats and rescuing a stranded "moon buggy." The robotic competition aims to engage students in math, science, technology and engineering. Each team had four students. The contest was divided into two sections: one for elementary-school teams, and the other for middle- and high-school teams.
In between the competition rounds and the awards ceremony, JPL robotics engineer Paulo Younse gave the students a special presentation on robotics at JPL featuring a video on Mars Science Laboratory, which features the rover named Curiosity, and how it works.
The Lego Robotics competition was streamed live on the Web. A video of the event can be viewed at http://livestre.am/F8jU .
JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Mars Science Laboratory mission for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington.
For more information about the next mission to Mars, visit http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/ .
More information about robotics programs for students can be found online at http://www.usfirst.org/roboticsprograms/fll/default.aspx .
List of Winners:
1st place: "The ThunderBots," Northridge Magnet School, Moreno Valley
2nd place: "...Bot Bunch V," Sycamore Hills Elementary School, Fontana
3rd place: "Rockin' Robots," Lake View Elementary, Huntington Beach
1st place: "Team Cocoa," Mesa Union School, Somis
2nd place: "Team Down Loadable Content," Roosevelt Middle School, Glendale
3rd place: "Robots Taking Over, " Charles T. Kranz Intermediate School, El Monte
"Team Down Loadable Content, " Roosevelt Middle School, Glendale
BEST ROBOT DESIGN AWARD
"Team Cocoa," Mesa Union School, Somis
AGAINST ALL ODDS AWARD
"Steam Rollers," Lake View Elementary School, Huntington Beach
Priscilla Vega (818) 354-1357
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.