Patriot Center Hosts Botball Next Month

Posted: April 19, 2002 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

For the second consecutive year, the Department of Computer Science will host the Washington, D.C., area Botball Tournament. The regional robotics tournament for middle and high school students will be held at the Patriot Center on Saturday, May 4.

The brainchild of several former NASA scientists and engineers who wanted to get young students and their schools interested in robotics, the day-long tournament, held nationally in 11 regions, is a culmination of a six-week project in which students, guided by their specially trained teachers, make robots from kits and program them to complete a task. In the process, the students learn science, technology, engineering, and math skills. A key feature of the Botball tournaments is that the robots must be designed to be completely autonomous, a much more difficult task than having them remotely piloted by the students.

George Mason hosted a three-day training session in March for team mentors. Computer Science faculty and students led by professors Kenneth De Jong and Sean Luke, who are members of the regional Botball Board, will provide on-site assistance during the tournament. De Jong says the Washington, D.C., tournament is the largest in the country, with more than 60 teams signed up, a 50 percent increase over last year. “This is a tremendous consciousness-raising event for us,” De Jong says.

The tournament is free and open to the public. Seeding rounds begin at 10 a.m., and the competition concludes with an awards ceremony at the end of the day. Regional participants may go on to a national competition this summer. For more information, visit

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