WHAT: In a combination of extreme sports and engineering know-how, 61 high-school teams from Southern California, Arizona, Brazil and Chile will face off in the Los Angeles regional FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition.

This year’s “Lunacy” challenge will resemble a bumper-car race and basketball game on steroids. In each two-minute-and-15-second round, six robots race on a “crater” roughly the size of a tennis court and score points by throwing balls called “moon rocks,” “empty cells” and “super cells” into the containers of the opposing alliance’s robots. Robots operate themselves in the first 15 seconds of play, then students can control the robots for the remaining two minutes.

The students designed and built their robots – which can stand up to about 1.5 meters high (five feet) and weigh up to 54 kilograms (120 pounds) – with the help of engineers from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in Pasadena, Calif., aerospace and other companies and higher-education institutions. JPL is sponsoring nine robotics teams.

These students are among the 38,000 students in 1,500 teams from around the world vying to compete in the FIRST championships April 16 to 19 in Atlanta. The FIRST robotics competition is part of NASA’s Robotics Alliance Project, which aims to expand the number of robotics systems experts available to NASA.

WHO: Sixty-one high-school teams, their coaches and mentors from Southern California, Arizona, Brazil and Chile. See list on next two pages.

WHEN: Friday, March 13
9:30 a.m. – 4:15 p.m. Seeding matches

Saturday, March 14

9 a.m. – Opening ceremonies
9:30 – 11:30 a.m. – Seeding matches
1- 4:15 p.m. – Final competition rounds
4:30 p.m. – Awards ceremony

WHERE: Long Beach Convention Center, 300 E. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach, Calif. 90802 Phone: (562) 436-3636. Competition admission is free. Parking fees apply.

More information and a short video about FIRST is at http://www.usfirst.org/. More information on NASA’s Robotics Alliance Project is at http://robotics.nasa.gov/ . Los Angeles FIRST robotics competition list of participating high schools

* denotes schools sponsored by JPL.

1. Mark Keppel High School, Alhambra
2. Anaheim High School, Anaheim
3. Arcadia Unified School District, Arcadia
4. Arroyo Grande High School, Arroyo Grande
5. Atascadero High School, Atascadero
6. Beverly Hills High School, Beverly Hills
7. California Academy of Mathematics & Science, Carson
8. Buchanan High School, Clovis
9. Culver City High School, Culver City
10. El Segundo High School, El Segundo
11. Dos Pueblos High School Engineering Academy, Goleta
12. Granada Hills Charter High School, Granada Hills
13. Granite Bay & South Placer Area High Schools, Granite Bay
14. Centinela Valley Union High School District, Hawthorne
15. Hope Chapel Academy High School, Hermosa Beach*
16. City Honors High School, Inglewood
17. Arnold O. Beckman High School, Irvine
18. Woodbridge High School, Irvine
19. Fremont High School, Los Angeles
20. La Canada High School, La Canada*
21. Crescenta Valley High School, La Crescenta*
22. Clark Magnet High School, La Crescenta*
23. Lancaster High School & Antelope Valley Union High School District, Lancaster
24. Frazier Mountain High School, Lebec
25. Foshay Learning Center, Los Angeles*
26. Milken Community High School, Los Angeles
27. Windward School, Los Angeles
28. Manual Arts High School, Los Angeles
29. The Archer School for Girls, Los Angeles
30. Crenshaw High School, Los Angeles
31. King Drew High School, Los Angeles
32. Manual Arts High School, Los Angeles
33. Madera High School, Madera
34. Mira Costa High School, Manhattan Beach, and Redondo Union High School, Redondo Beach
35. Bishop Alemany High School, Mission Hills
36. South Pasadena High School and Burroughs High School, north Los Angeles area*
37. Campbell Hall School, North Hollywood
38. John Muir High School, Pasadena*
39. Santa Margarita Catholic High School, Rancho Santa Margarita
40. Reseda High School, Reseda
41. La Sierra High School, Riverside
42. Palos Verdes Peninsula High School, Rolling Hills Estates
43. Rancho San Bernardo High School, San Diego
44. San Marino High School, San Marino*
45. Rolling Hills Preparatory School, San Pedro
46. Santa Fe High School, Santa Fe Springs
47. The Buckley High School, Sherman Oaks
48. Notre Dame High School, Sherman Oaks
49. West Ranch High School, Stevenson Ranch*
50. Harvard-Westlake School, Studio City
51. Newbury Park High School, Newbury Park; Thousand Oaks High School, Thousand Oaks; and Westlake High School, Westlake
52. North High School, South High School, West High School & Torrance High School, Torrance
53. High Tech-LA High School, Van Nuys
54. Saint Bonaventure High School, Ventura
55. Verbum Dei High School, Watts
56. Chaminade College Preparatory, West Hills
57. Louisville High School, Woodland Hills

Arizona and International schools:

58. Buena High School, Sierra Vista, Arizona
59. Prof. E. Passos Technical High School, Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil
60. H.A. Souza Professional Training Center, Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil
61. Universidad Andres Bello, Santiago, Chile