John Ira pettyJohnson Space Center, Houston, TX

Phone: 281/483-5111

Release: J00-16

The tasks sound simple enough ñ racing across a long playing field,
scooping up balls and placing then in an overhead rack. The catch is
that competitors canít just do it themselves ñ they have to design
robots to do it for them.

Thirty-seven high school student teams from 10 states will participate
in the FIRST Robotics Competition at the AstroArena March 16 to 18 to
see how well their robots stack up. Johnson Space Center and other NASA
centers are supporting more than half the teams in the regional
competition, through grants to help develop better science programs.

The FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology)
Robotics Competition is in its ninth year. Teams had six weeks to design
and build their robots. The competition is exciting, but the purpose
behind it is to give students hands-on experience ñ in research, design,
management and project teamwork. Each team has a business, institution
or university partner.

On March 16 teams check in and practice. The following day Opening
Ceremonies will be held at 9 a.m., followed by seeding rounds. Seeding
rounds continue March 18, Saturday, from 9:30 a.m. to noon. Final rounds
begin at 1 p.m., to be followed by the Awards Ceremony.

FIRST is a non-profit alliance of business, education and government
organizations founded in 1989 to inspire youth in science, engineering
and technology. More information on FIRST programs is available at Information on the regional competition is
available from Lucia Sevcik at (281) 686-0465 or Steve Alaniz at (713)