Teens converge on Long Beach for annual robotics competition
2010-03-23 · By Barbara Holbrook
Robots are invading the Long Beach Arena, Friday, March 26 and Saturday, March 27 for a competition presented by For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST).
The FIRST Robotics Competition, FRC, has staged competitions around the country since 1989. They say their goal is to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders, but all that engineering, mentoring and self-esteem building can’t hide the fact that robots are just plain cool.
“FIRST is about giving kids the opportunity to build skill sets like analytical thinking to then develop what they may or may not use to build a robot; but they might use these skills to become a scientist, engineer, or inventor,” said Dean Kamen, FIRST Founder, as he explained how what students learn from FIRST is very different from other sports. “Ten years from today, one of these students is going to be out in the world having done something extraordinary for a major, global problem.”
The robotics competition is comprised of short games played by autonomous and remote-controlled robots. The robots are designed and built by teams of 15-25 high-school-aged young people and a handful of engineer-mentors. Each team gets six weeks and a common set of parts. The projects culminate with live competition rounds where students remotely control their robots on the field.
January marks the start of the six-week “build” session each year. This season more than 1,800 teams will participate in 43 regional competitions where 40 to 70 teams are cheered on by thousands of fans over two and a half days.
“The positive impact this event has on young people is wonderful to witness,” said Dan Spellens, Director of Theaters & Entertainment for the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center where the Los Angeles regional will take place.
The winners and their robots will meet up at the 2010 FIRST Championship at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, April 15-17. Awards are presented for design, technology, sportsmanship, and commitment to FIRST.
The Los Angeles Regional FIRST Robotics Competition takes place at the Long Beach Arena March 25-27. Free events are open to the public from around 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Visit usfirst.org for a complete schedule of events. The arena is located at 300 East Ocean Boulevard, Long Beach 90802.