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FIRST sparks interest in science, technology

June 1, 2011
More than 25,000 fans, families, educators, and industry leaders celebrated students' engineering prowess at the annual FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition

More than 25,000 fans, families, educators, and industry leaders celebrated students' engineering prowess at the annual FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Championship held April 28 to 30 in St. Louis, Mo. A not-for-profit organization founded by inventor Dean Kamen, FIRST inspires young people's interest and participation in science and technology. The Black Eyed Peas hosted a special concert to honor the FIRST students while major awards were presented by senior officials from the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Department of Energy, and NASA, as well as executives from Autodesk, Boeing, General Motors, PTC, Rockwell Automation, and UL, among others.

More than 600 teams from 29 countries competed in the three levels of FIRST: FIRST LEGO League (grades 4 to 8); FIRST Tech Challenge (grades 9 to 12); and FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC, grades 9 to 12). This year marked the 20th season of the FRC program. In its inaugural year, FIRST hosted 28 teams in a New Hampshire high school gym. This year, 2,075 FIRST teams in 11 countries participated in FRC. With strict rules, limited resources, and time limits, teams are challenged to fund, design a brand, and exercise teamwork to build and program robots to perform tasks against competitors.

This year's FRC challenge was called “LOGO MOTION,” honoring Jack Kamen, Dean Kamen's father. Two alliances of three teams competed on a field with poles, attempting to earn points by hanging as many triangle, circle, and square logo pieces as possible. Bonus points were awarded for each robot that hung and assembled logo pieces to form the FIRST logo. The Winning Alliance of the FRC Championship was Team 254, The Cheesy Poofs, San Jose, Calif.; Team 111, WildStang, Schaumburg, Ill.; and Team 973, Greybots, Atascadero, Calif. Team 359, Hawaiian Kids, of Waialua, Hawaii, won the Chairman's Award, the highest honor given at the FRC Championship, recognizing the team that best embodies the purpose and goals of FIRST. For more information, visit usfirst.org.

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