Stennis Space Center - Louisiana, Mississippi teams kick off 2014 FIRST Robotics season

This is a news release from Stennis Space Center

Thirty-three teams from Louisiana and Mississippi high schools traveled to Stennis Space Center Jan. 4 for the kickoff of the 2014 FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics season.

The teams were welcomed by Katrina Emery, Stennis education director, who underscored that programs like FIRST Robotics provides exposure to STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education and careers while making the experience fun. The annual competition seeks to inspire students to pursue STEM careers.

Participants watched a broadcast from FIRST® headquarters in Manchester, N.H., featuringFIRST® founder Dean Kamen, to learn details of their 2014 competition challenge. Teams also received parts kits they will use to build robots for the challenge. Teams nationwide are given identical parts kits and six weeks to build robots to compete in scheduled tournaments.

This year's "Aerial Assist" game will be played by two Alliances of three teams each. Alliances will compete by trying to score as many balls in goals as possible during a two-minute-and-30-second match. Additional points can be earned by robots working together to score goals and by throwing and catching balls over a truss suspended just over five feet above the floor.

A description and video simulation of the "Aerial Assist" game can be found online by searching keyword "FIRST Robotics".

More than 350 students, mentors and officials visited Stennis for the kickoff event, the 10th year that the rocket engine test center has hosted the season-opening event. Kickoff events also were held in 91 cities across the nation and world, attracting nearly 70,000 high school students. Kamen noted, "Winning the game is fun, but the importance of FIRST is that you'll get much more out of it than you put in, and it's going to change the rest of your life."

NASA and Stennis Space Center support FIRST® Robotics Competition with mentors, volunteers and contributions. Interested mentors should call Cheri Miller at 228-688-3802 or The 2014 Bayou Regional FIRST® Robotics Competition is scheduled at the Pontchartrain Center in Kenner, La., on April 3-5.

For information about FIRST® Robotics,  For information about the Bayou Regional FIRST® Robotics Competition, For information about Stennis,