Botball Debuts at Patriot Center

Posted: April 20, 2001 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Robin Herron

Move that video game aside, it’s time for Botball. The newest non-athletic sport for middle school and high school students, Botball comes to the Patriot Center on Saturday, April 21. In its fourth year, Botball is a tournament of robotic skills sponsored by the KISS (for “keep it simple stupid”) Institute for Practical Robotics. George Mason is a sponsor of the Washington, D.C., regional tournament where 40 to 50 teams are expected to compete.

The tournament is a culmination of a six-week project in which students made robots from kits provided by the KISS Institute, and programmed them using C language, under the guidance of their specially trained teachers. The mobile robots must pick up and place balls in scoring position without any remote control devices. Through the development process, students learn science, technology, engineering, and math skills.

About a dozen George Mason computer science faculty members and students are serving as mentors for the teams and will also help out with organizational activities at Botball. Says Kenneth De Jong, professor of Computer Science and faculty sponsor for the event, “As educators involved in the educational process, we want to get students excited about robotics, and this is a competitive event that can turn them on. As a side benefit, we’d love to attract some of these students to George Mason for their college career.”

The tournament is free and open to the public. Seeding rounds begin at 9 a.m. and the competition concludes with an awards ceremony at 5 p.m. Regional participants may go on to a national competition this summer.

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