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Photos: It's tipoff time for robo-ball tournament

As part of its mission to make science fun, NASA sponsors a robot basketball tournment that begins Saturday.
By Bill Detwiler, Contributor on
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Orlando regionals

Who says science and technology can't be fun?

As part of its mission to encourage students to study math, science and engineering, NASA is sponsoring the finals of a robot basketball tournament for high school teams across the United States from April 27-29 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Some 1,133 high school robotics teams entered the FIRST (Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) 2006 challenge called "Aim High."

Each team was given identical kits and six weeks to design and build robots for regional basketball competitions to qualify for the finals. See coverage from the San Francisco regional matches.

For "Aim High," robots from two to three team alliances have 40 balls to launch into one of three goals. The robots are pre-programmed and use special vision systems for the first 10 seconds and can be run by remote control thereafter. Watch a competition from Manchester, N.H.

Check back on Monday for the results.

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Parts

To compete, teams must pony up $6,000 for registration and any other amount up to $3,500 needed to augment the initial supplies. Once registered, the teams are given three boxes of hardware and software worth roughly $10,000, including motors, wheels, transmission, radio controller and control board. They are given engineering software and a programming language called Easy C that allows them to write a program for the robot's on-board computer.

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ref

Looks like a real ref for this competition. Richard Manco, NASA Glenn exhibit manager, was named Volunteer of the Year partly for his work at the Buckeye Regional. Thirty-three regional competitions took place in March for teams to qualify for the finals at the Georgia Dome.

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Louisville High School

Students from Louisville High School get King Louis 1 players ready for action.

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Roccobot

During the regionals, the Pink Team from Rockledge and Cocoa Beach high schools in Florida stretch "Roccobot" before the action begins.

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