Sunday, April 4, 2010

FIRST robotics competition a great showcase for junior tech geeks

It’s a thrill to see young people excel in science and engineering. That’s why the FIRST robotics competitions are such a pleasure to attend.
The FIRST competitions are a combination varsity high school sporting event, science fair, Battlebots show and dance party. The participants have a lot of fun and so do the spectators.
My son, who’s nearly 7, and I attended the FIRST Connecticut Regional Robotics Competition in Hartford, Conn., on Saturday. The event, held April 1-3 at the Connecticut Convention Center, is sponsored by Northeast Utilities.
Inventor Dean Kamen founded FIRST in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. FIRST is an acronym for “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.”
Every year, FIRST creates a new game to keep things challenging.
This year’s robot game is called “Breakaway.” Teams compete on a 27-by-54-foot field and earn points by shooting or pushing soccer balls into goals. The field has big speed bumps as obstacles. At the end of the match, teams can earn bonus points if they get their robots to climb poles and suspend themselves in the air.
Fifty-six teams from Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Brazil took part in the 2010 regional.
Congratulations to all the teams participating in the event, especially the winning three-team alliance of Uberbots of Avon, Conn.; Brazilian Machine of Porto Alegre, Brazil; and the Gearheads of Somerville, N.J. They advance to the national FIRST robotics competition in Atlanta starting April 14, according to the Republican-American of Waterbury, Conn.

Photo from the April 3 FIRST robotics competition in Hartford, Conn.

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