Mississippi high schools compete in NASA competition

BAY ST. LOUIS, Mississippi (WDAM) – Thirty teams from Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi high schools traveled to NASA's John C. Stennis Space Center on Jan. 8th for the beginning of the 2011 FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics season.

During the event, team members, mentors, coaches, and parents watched a live broadcast from FIRST headquarters in Manchester, N.H., featuring FIRST founder Dean Kamen and will.i.am of The Black Eyed Peas to learn their 2011 competition challenge.

"It's not just about robots," Kamen said. "It's about building self-confidence, respect and important relationships with people who invent new technologies to make a better future."

"I'm inspired by FIRST," will.i.am said during the event. "I've traveled all over the world, and this is the most exciting thing. You are cool, and I'm going to turn it up so everyone knows it."

Team members also received parts kits they will use to build robots to meet the challenge in the next six weeks. 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.

This year marks the 20th FIRST Robotics Competition season. "Logo Motion" is the theme for this year; a pair of three-team alliances will compete on a 27-by-57-foot playing field with poles, attempting to earn points by hanging as many triangles, circle and square logo pieces as possible. Bonus points will be earned for each robot that can hang and assemble logo pieces to form the FIRST logo. For a chance to earn additional points, robots also can deploy Mini-Bots to climb vertical poles. A description of the "Logo-Motion" game and video simulation of a match can be viewed online at: www.usfirst.org/roboticsprograms/frc/content.aspx?id=18762.

The 2011 Bayou Regional FIRST Robotics Competition is scheduled at the Alario Center in Westwego, La., on March 17-19.

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.

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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