Robotics competition kicks off Saturday for Horry County Schools teams

vgrooms@thesunnews.comJanuary 3, 2014 

The 2014 FIRST Robotics Competition will begin Saturday as S.C. high school robotics teams, including 12 from Horry County Schools, pick up their kits from the Center for Advanced Technical Studies in Chapin and learn about the game their robots must be built to play.

FIRST Robotics is the largest organized competitive robotics program in the world, with about 2,850 teams participating this year in 98 regional and district events. The Palmetto Regional FIRST Robotics Competition will be held in Myrtle Beach for the second year Feb. 27-28 and March 1 at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center, and the event is free and open to the public. City officials estimate last year’s event brought $1 million in direct spending to the local economy.

Most district teams will begin work on their robots Monday, when students return to school from the holidays, said Bucky Sellers, pre-engineering teacher at the Academy for the Arts, Science and Technology. Sellers has been instrumental in growing the district’s robotics program from two teams at AAST and the Academy for Technology and Academics in 2011, to teams at every high school except Scholars Academy, where students are encouraged to join teams at their base schools.

Teams have six weeks to design and build a robot that can perform the tasks of the game, and the competition is designed to encourage interest in STEM (science, technology, math and engineering) skills and teach students how to solve problems and work together. Regional winners – including last year’s ATA team from Conway - move on to the national tournament.

The competition’s global kick-off will be broadcast internationally on NASA-TV from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and can be viewed at http://robotics.nasa.gov/ or http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/index.html.

Contact VICKI GROOMS at 443-2401 or follow her at Twitter.com/TSN_VickiGrooms.

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