Fifty-nine D.C. area teams will go head-to-head in a fast-paced robot competition on Saturday, May 4, 2002, at George Mason University’s Patriot Center. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., is a major sponsor of the competition, presented by KISS Institute for Practical Robotics.

The competition is designed to engage students in learning the practical applications of science, technology, engineering and math through robot building and programming.

Middle and high school students from across the region have six weeks to design, build and program a robot to compete in the D.C. Regional Botball Tournament. Robots compete on a 4-foot by 8-foot game board and score points by moving colored balls into scoring position. Each school’s team of two robots must turn themselves on and off, react to their opponent and maneuver on the game board without the use of remote controls.

According to NASA’s Jim Green, the Goddard Space Flight Center is the big supporter of this year’s tournament, contributing help with entry fees for any team that can’t afford the $2,000 fee, providing mentors to more than a dozen teams, providing five judges for game day and covering some of the costs to have it at the Patriot Center.

“We have a large number of Goddard employees who devote their extra time w2ng with these kids as mentors, or judges, or manning the booths. Our participation has always been something that I am extremely proud of.”

Green says the kids that participate in this contest are highly gifted and interested in computer engineering. “We want them as summer students, we want them to come and work at GSFC when they finish. They are our future leaders.”

He adds the event provides a lasting impression on the students. “They remember being in this ‘NASA event’ for years to come. This can give them the boost they need to focus on computer engineering as they go into college. I have constantly been amazed the effect this program has on kids.”

In addition to NASA Goddard, local sponsors of the event include Virginia Technology Council Foundation, Naval Research Lab, ASG and the Fairfax County Public Schools Education Foundation.

The DC Regional Botball Tournament begins with Seeding Rounds at 10:30 a.m. followed by the Double Elimination Tournament at approximately 1:30 p.m.

The tournament is open to the news media. The event is also open to the public and there is no admission charge. For more information on the event, news media can call Jim Green at 301/286-7354 or reach him by email at or by email


Botball is presented nationwide by the KISS Institute for Practical Robotics. KISS Institute, founded in Reston, Va., is dedicated to linking people and technology through education, outreach and research.

For more information on Botball, visit or call 405/579-4609.