March 19, 2009

NASA has robotics competition

Two California schools -- Fillmore's San Cayetano Elementary School and the Mesa Union School in Somis -- won top honors in a U.S. robotics competition.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration said the schools won its third annual Southern California Explorer Schools Robotics Competition at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., this week. The winning schools were two of 12 NASA Explorer elementary, middle and high schools that entered 21 teams in the Lego robotics competition.

The student teams' tabletop robots had to perform different tasks, such as retrieving planetary mineral formations and rescuing a stranded moon rat, or small robot, within 2 minutes. Students built and programmed their Lego robots using laptop computers for the competition, which was designed to engage them in math, science, technology and engineering.

The project is a three-year partnership between NASA and about 200 schools nationwide.

Video of the competition, as well as a presentation about engineering and technology careers given by JPL quality-assurance engineer Curtis Wilkerson after the competition, is available at