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High School Teams Shine in NASA-JPL Supported Robotics Showdown
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High School Teams Shine in NASA-JPL Supported Robotics Showdown
by Clarence Oxford
Los Angeles CA (SPX) Mar 19, 2024

Forty-four high school teams showcased their engineering prowess at the FIRST Robotics Los Angeles regional competition, where hand-crafted robots competed in a spirited showdown.

Over the weekend, the annual Los Angeles regional FIRST Robotics Competition saw a dazzling display of student ingenuity as 125-pound robots, created by 44 high school teams, navigated through a series of challenges on the Da Vinci Schools campus in El Segundo. This event, bolstered by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, culminated in five teams securing their spots to advance to the FIRST international championship in Houston this April.

Each match featured six robots in a frenetic 2 0.5-minute race, collecting and launching foam rings into target chutes while striving for additional points by suspending themselves from a metal chain in the finale. The atmosphere was electrified with dynamic music and live commentary, captivating the audience of enthusiastic students.

Kim Lievense, manager of JPL's Public Services Office and event volunteer coordinator, remarked on the vibrant energy and competitive spirit, praising the dedication and innovation of the participating teams and their robots.

The competition, now in its 24th year in the L.A. area, is part of FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), a nonprofit organization that fosters STEM education by pairing students with professionals in the field. Through this program, students gain valuable experience in engineering, teamwork, and business skills.

This year's game, titled "Crescendo" and themed around arts and entertainment, challenged teams to use FIRST's specifications to design, build, and test their robots within a tight deadline, showcasing their skills in engineering, manufacturing, and software programming.

Julie Townsend, a JPL event judge and veteran FIRST volunteer, highlighted the complexity and impressiveness of the students' work, emphasizing the importance of FIRST in providing high school students with unparalleled engineering experiences.

The triumphant alliance consisted of Team 368 ("Team Kika Mana") from McKinley High School in Honolulu, Team 9408 ("Warbots") from Warren High in Downey, and Team 980 ("ThunderBots") from Burbank, a NASA house team supported by JPL. Additionally, Team 687 ("The Nerd Herd") and Team 3473 ("Team Sprocket") earned accolades, securing their participation in the Houston championship.

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