DURHAM, New Hampshire — Nearly 2,000 high school students from teams in New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts and Connecticut are participating in a FIRST Robotics Competition at the University of New Hampshire this month.
The competition pits teams of high school students — mentored by professional engineers — against each other for a shot at the national championships and at scholarships. UNH is hosting for the second year, the weekend of March 21-22.
Each team has six weeks to build a robot from a common kit of parts for the competition. This year's contest is a recycling-themed game played by two teams of three robots each. The robots score points by stacking notes on scoring platforms, capping those stacks with recycling containers and disposing of pool noodles, representing litter.
"FIRST is more than robots. The robots are a vehicle for students to learn important life skills," said Dean Kamen, president of Manchester's DEKA Research & Development and the founder of FIRST. Its name is short "for inspiration and recognition of science and technology."
"Kids often come in not knowing what to expect - of the program nor of themselves," Kamen said. They leave, even after the first season, with a vision, with confidence, and with a sense that they can create their own future."