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

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid