Twenty middle and high school teams across Alabama, Tennessee and Mississippi will demonstrate their student-built robots during the annual “Robots to Rocket City” at the Davidson Center for Space Exploration, located at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. This event runs from 1-3:30 p.m., helping kick-off the 2016 season of FIRST Robotics, a national competition for students in grades 9-12.

News media interested in covering the event should contact Pat Ammons at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center at 256-721-5429; or Angela Storey of the Public & Employee Communications Office at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, at 256-544-0034, no later than 3 p.m. Friday, March. 4.

Robots to Rocket City provides teams an opportunity to demonstrate their robot’s ability to complete tasks associated with the 2016 challenge, named “FIRST Stronghold” — a medieval-themed game where robots must storm opponent castles, breach defenses, launch foam boulders and capture opposing towers.

Local schools participating include The Mad Rockers, with students from Bob Jones and James Clemens high schools in Madison, Alabama; Morgan County Mech Tech, comprised of students from A.P. Brewer, Priceville, Danville, Falkville and West Morgan high schools in Morgan County, Alabama; and Team G.R.E.A.T. from Grissom High School in Huntsville.

FIRST teams have spent the past six weeks designing, building and testing their robots — with the help of adult mentors — in order to compete at district and regional competitions held throughout the nation during March and April. This includes Alabama’s inaugural FIRST regional competition, “FRC Rocket City Regional,” to be held at the Von Braun Center March 24-26. Each district and regional competition gives teams a chance to qualify for a spot at the national competition in St. Louis on April 27-30.

FIRST, which stands for “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology,” is a national organization founded in 1989 by inventor Dean Kamen in Manchester, New Hampshire, to inspire young people to pursue careers in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and math. NASA and its Robotics Alliance Project provide grants for high school teams and support for FIRST Robotics competitions around the country to address the critical national shortage in these fields. This educational event is a collaborative effort between the Marshall Center, the U.S. Space & Rocket Center and the National Space Club, all of Huntsville.

More information about FIRST programs and competitions is available at:

More information about the Marshall Space Flight Center is available at:

More information about the U.S. Space & Rocket Center is available at: