Israeli teens build robots for competition

Friday, March 30, 2007 |  by Nicole Jansezian
Some 1,400 Israeli teenagers showcased their robotic creations Tuesday and Wednesday in a raucous and entertaining nationwide competition where the students competed to win a spot at the international robotics championships in America.

But behind all the fun was an education in engineering and technology that most of these students may never have gotten otherwise. FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) sponsored the event for the third straight year in Israel.

The top six teams will go on to compete in the world championship April 12 to 14 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. In Israel, the competition gives young people an opportunity to learn subjects they would’ve otherwise not had access to, according to FIRST Israel Director Alisha Wallenstein.

The robots are built with the same goal in mind: to pick up and place tubes on a metal tree with rungs of varying heights. Other strategies include earning points by building robots to lift another robot 12 inches off the ground—a quick slew of points that usually wins the round.

The students have six weeks to build their robots. They all receive a kit with the same parts but they can build the robot however they want depending on certain scoring strategies and simple creativity. They also have to program the machines to be operated by remote control.

“This started in the US because not many students want to go on and study engineering,” Wallenstein said. “So the goal is to get kids interested.”

Or Juhl, 14, who participated in the Lego robot competition for younger children, will be competing in Europe with his team this summer after programming a “Lego-bot” with nanotechnology.

“I want to be a doctor when I grow up,” he said. “It’s been helpful and a lot of fun being in this competition.”

For the full story, see Israel Today May 2007

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