News / Science & Technology

Teens Compete in International Robotics Competition

Teens Compete in International Robotics Competitioni
X
April 16, 2013 12:51 AM
High school students around the world have designed and built robots for a competition hosted by a group called "FIRST," formally known as "For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology." VOA's Suzanne Presto introduces us to some U.S. and international teams competing at the FIRST Robotics Competition Washington DC Regional, a qualifying event for the world championships in late April.
Suzanne Presto
High school students around the world have designed and built robots for a competition hosted by "FIRST," an organization formally known as "For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology."  

The FIRST Robotics Competition Washington DC Regional, a qualifying event for the world championship in late April, had all the energy of a professional sporting event.  Bleachers at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center were packed with cheering fans, many of whom wore the colors of their favorite teams.  Mascots danced courtside, energizing the crowd.  Team members in matching shirts high-fived after strong plays.      
        
But the teenage competitors were not on the playing field themselves.  Instead, they were battling robots they built themselves in an event that celebrates students' brains and robotic brawn.

In match after match, rotating teams of six frisbee-flinging, point-scoring, opponent-blocking, tower-climbing robots competed on an 8 by 16 meter court to win the game 'Ultimate Ascent.'  Their aim was to land as many discs in their goals as possible during the roughly two-minute matches.  Robots operated independently for a brief period before students took over the controls.   

International Competition and Cooperation

More than 50,000 students around the world are participating in this year's competition, with teams in Australia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Brazil, Britain, Canada, Chile, China, the Dominican Republic, Germany, Israel, Mexico, the Netherlands, Singapore, Taiwan and Turkey, as well as the United States.  More than 1,000 high school students, representing schools in the eastern U.S. and overseas, gathered at the meet in Washington.  

 "To have the opportunity to come here to the U.S.A. and compete is amazing," said Guilherme Lima, a member of the team "Brazilian Machine."  

Shaked Keidar of the "Thunderbolts" team from Israel said there is competition but also cooperation.  His team has a strong bond with a U.S. team that visited Israel last year.   

"We hosted them, so this year we met up with them right here in the pit next to us," he said, referring to the area where teams tweak their robots between matches.  "They're helping us, and we really love them."

The Thunderbolts' mentor, Eli Barak, says the competition is about more than building robots.  

"Everybody thinks it's about robots.  As a matter of fact, we build people here," he said.  "The whole idea of setting up priorities, deciding what to do, what to give up - this is really the learning experience for the kids."   

Building and Battling Robots

On the court, three teams form an alliance - red or blue - and those alliances shift during qualifying matches.  Alliance-mates become opponents, a switch that promotes good sportsmanship.  

It takes long days and hard work to make it to the competition.  Event organizers sent each team the same kit of components, and students had just six weeks to design, program and build their robots.    

The Woodrow Wilson High School team in Washington, called "Tiger Pride," won last year's regional competition and worked hard this year to defend its title.  

Student Sohrab Pasikhani is a returning member of the robotics team.  He says the program gives students the opportunity to think outside of the box and to gain hands-on experience.

"Before this, I barely knew what a screw was, didn't even know what a nut or a bolt was," he said.  Now Pasikhani helps design and build the robot.

Mentor Jeff Wetzel of DC Robotics says the students use math, science and creativity to succeed.

"Having the kids have smiles on their faces when they leave, and be puzzled and confused and overcome that, and to see them work through a problem and come to a solution, that makes me happy," he said.    

Student Larissa Simon, who got involved with the Tiger Pride team this school year, says the competition fuels excitement about science and technology.  

"I really like learning about mechanics and robotics, and I think it's important that girls especially get involved in engineering," she said.  

DC Regional Results

Wilson High's Tiger Pride did not reclaim victory this year, but the team took it in stride as they packed up their robot.
 
"We just take it back to the school and then we wait for an off-season event," said Pasikhani.
 
Members of the team Brazilian Machine cheered euphorically when they earned a spot in the world championship by placing in the event's top three, along with Team Krunch from Florida and The RoboCats from Ohio.  
Israel's Thunderbolts had already secured a spot in the world finals, which are set for late April in the midwestern United States.

You May Like

US Gives Malaysia Questionable Upgrade in Human Trafficking Ranks

Malaysia’s upgrade seen as removing barrier to country’s participation in the US-led 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership More

Turkey, US Try to Establish Buffer Despite Differences

Coalition airstrikes in proposed zone would aim to drive out Islamic extremists, allowing targeted area to come under sway of anti-Assad rebels More

Video US: Millions Exploited by Vast Fortunes of Human Trafficking

State Department's annual report calls exploitation 'modern slavery,' brutalizing girls, women into prostitution and forcing men, women and children into low-wage jobs across the globe More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Wini
X
July 28, 2015 12:21 AM
The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Obama Encourages Kenya to Fix Cultures of Corruption, Discrimination

President Barack Obama bid farewell to Kenya Sunday with a major speech at as stadium outside the capital Nairobi where he called on Kenyans to change the cultures of corruption and discrimination that can hold society back. VOA East Africa Correspondent Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video California Towns Welcome Special Olympics Athletes

Cities and towns in Southern California are greeting thousands of athletes who are arriving for Special Olympics, a competition for people with intellectual disabilities. The games will run from July 25th through August 2nd. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, where athletes from Namibia, Singapore and Tanzania got a rousing welcome from local residents.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.
Video

Video Hoverbike Flying Toward Reality

Another long-standing dream of many technological inventors is quickly approaching reality: U.S.- and British-based firms are cooperating in the development of an individual flying platform they call a hoverbike. They say it may revolutionize the concept of flying, including in the U.S. military. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video As Japan Expands Defense Role, Protests Follow

The Japanese government is moving forward with a controversial security bill that would authorize the military to fight abroad for the first time since World War II. Leaders say it is critical to defend against rising threats from China and North Korea. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Japan on the big changes ahead, and the opposition they are drawing.
Video

Video Replacing Poppies with Coffee in Myanmar

The remote mountains of Myanmar’s Shan state are home to the second-largest opium-producing region in the world. After a drop during the 2000s, production surged in the past eight years to feed an increasing demand for heroin in China. But farmers are now making less on the crop, and the U.N. is hoping many will make the switch to growing coffee. Daniel de Carteret reports for VOA from Taunggyi.

VOA Blogs