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Robotics Teams Among World's Best

Students from three local high schools will compete in the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition World Championship at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis from April 23 to 26.

A combined team of robotics students from Poly and Wilson high schools advanced to the world championship after earning the Rookie All-Star Award at the recent FIRST Robotics Competition regional qualifier at the Long Beach Convention Center.

The Long Beach Unified School District’s California Academy of Mathematics and Science also participated in the regional event and advanced to a Las Vegas competition where CAMS then won the Entrepreneurship Award and qualified to compete in the St. Louis championship alongside the rookie Poly/Wilson team.

More than 1,500 students from 66 high school robotics teams – including three teams from Chile – competed in the regional event in Long Beach.

The 2014 robotics contests involve a challenge called "Aerial Assist," which is played between two alliances of three teams each.  Each alliance tries to score as many balls in goals as possible in two and half minutes.  Additional points are earned by robots working together to score goals, and by throwing and catching balls over a truss suspended just over five feet above the floor as the robots move the ball down the field. View a youtube game animation.

“It is an honor for us to be one of the first FRC teams from the Long Beach Unified School District and be able to bring home a very prestigious award in our first year,” said Poly tenth grader Matthew Crane, co-captain of The Golden Machine, the rookie robotics team that includes both Poly and Wilson students.

Dubbed a “varsity sport of the mind,” the FIRST Robotics Competition combines the excitement of sport with the rigors of science and technology.  Under strict rules, and with limited resources and a six-week time limit, students are challenged to raise funds, build and program a robot and learn about teamwork.  Life-sized robots weigh up to 120 pounds.

Founded by inventor Dean Kamen, who introduced the IBOT Mobility System and the Segway Human Transporter, FIRST was created to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people, their schools and their communities.  Now in its 23rd season, the FIRST Robotics Competition anticipates about 2,720 teams in the U.S. and 16 countries to compete in 54 Regional Events and 40 District Competitions.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena sponsored 10 teams from Southern California at the recent competition as part of NASA's Robotics Alliance Project. JPL also oversaw volunteer coordination for the Long Beach event and provided volunteer workers, including judges, referees, field re-setter and game announcer.  The regional competition also was sponsored by the Roddenberry Foundation, which was established by the son of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry.

Wilson’s team members are advised by teacher Greg Pepek.  Poly’s team members are advised by teacher Tamara Araya.  The CAMS students are advised by teacher Ted Harder.

For more information and a short video about FIRST, visit Learn more about NASA's Robotics Alliance Project at

WORLD CLASS – Members of The Golden Machine, a rookie robotics team that includes students from Wilson and Poly high schools, compete in a recent regional event in Long Beach. The team advanced to the World Championship in St, Louis, as did a team from the California Academy of Mathematics and Science.