Hoops the hard way: Competition pits local teams in a robotic game of basketball

Local teens tested their mettle — and their metal — during a regional robotics competition Friday and Saturday at the Long Beach Arena.

La Cañada High School, John Burroughs High School in Burbank, John Muir High School in Pasadena, and Crescenta Valley and Clark Magnet high schools in La Crescenta were among nearly 70 schools with teams given six weeks to design and build robots for the showdown. Jet Propulsion Laboratory engineers sponsored area teams and helped with robot design.

During robotic basketball matches, students used remote controls to maneuver robots along a 27-by-54-foot court and attempt to launch foam balls through hoops. Students took aim by syncing the robots with reflective targets above the hoops. Teams also earned points by balancing their robots on obstacles. Bonus rounds gave students the chance to use Xbox Kinect videogame software to control the robots using body motion.

The competition was organized by the New Hampshire-based nonprofit group For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, founded to encourage student interest in scientific careers.

The nonprofit Pasadena Educational Foundation funds robotics classes at Pasadena middle schools. It organized a field trip for more than 200 students to watch Friday's matches. The middle schoolers will have their own robotics competition May 19 at Pasadena City College.

-- Joe Piasecki, Times Community News

Twitter: @joepiasecki

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