New teams, bigger robotics kits and more participants signal the start of the 2011 season of FIRST Robotics, the technology Super Bowl of high school sports. The kick-off event for the Finger Lakes region takes place Jan. 8 at the Kodak Theater-on-the-Ridge Auditorium, 500 West Ridge Road.
The 33 high school teams made up of 760 students, mentors and teachers will register 9-10:15 a.m. followed by an opening address by regional organizers. Competitors will then listen to a live, international simulcast from NASA by FIRST Robotics founder Dean Kamen at 10:30 a.m. as he unveils this year’s competition game.
Each year the game is different, providing an exciting challenge for the competition, says Glen Pearson, Finger Lakes FIRST Robotics regional director. After the webcast, robotics kits will be distributed to the teams and a short demonstration of the game will be staged noon-1 p.m. just outside the auditorium.
Regional teams hail from New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Michigan, Massachusetts and Ontario, Canada. Four new teams have registered for the regional event from the Rochester and the surrounding area including Greece Olympia High School, East High School and a combined team from several City School District high schools, as well as Notre Dame High School in Elmira, N.Y.
After the kick-off, teams will have six weeks to work with mentors and volunteer sponsors to build their robots for the regional event scheduled for March 3-5. It will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day at the Gordon Field House at Rochester Institute of Technology.
FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) began in 1989 to spark interest in science through solving engineering problems in a friendly, intense competition. This year, more than 2,000 teams and 55,000 student-participants from around the world will compete. After regional events, winners compete in the national championship, scheduled for April 27-30 in St. Louis.
More information about the Finger Lakes Regional FIRST Robotics organization or about volunteering for the regional event can be found at www.firstrochester.org.