Sarasota News Leader

03/22/2013

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ON TO NATIONALS Often the arena was a scene of controlled chaos, as robots needing ���medical attention��� were helped off the field and new competitors rolled their robots into place. Photo by Scott Proffitt AFTER A REGIONAL WIN IN ORLANDO, THE JUNGLE ROBOTICS TEAM IS RAISING FUNDS FOR ITS TRIP TO THE BIG COMPETITION IN ST. LOUIS By Scott Proffitt Staff Writer The stadium reverbated with the chants and foot stomping of exuberant fans. Face paint was in no short supply; nor were costumes and shows of team colors. The decibel level was a constant reminder for those of us of a certain age that earplugs would have been a good idea, as screams for teams reverberated off our ear drums. Perhaps the biggest clue for a casual observer that this was not another basketball, football or volleyball game was the fact that the ���players��� on the field were all a bit different. They were robots. 16 countries and more than 50,000 students: all building robots, programming, problem solving and having fun. From NASA to Microsoft to GM, corporations see the youthful participants as the workforce of the future, and they back that up by providing more than 750 scholarship opportunities for the participants. Three days of pitting contraptions against each other that were designed to throw Frisbees and climb a pyramidal jungle gym winnowed down the teams that would move on to the Nationals. This was the Orlando Regional FIRST Competitions like the recent one in Orlando (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science have been going on for 22 years now, involving and Technology) Robotics competition.

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