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

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violencei
X
Lenny Ruvaga
November 27, 2014 7:05 PM
The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid