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Robots take over U of M sports arenas March 30-31

March 28, 2012

Media note: Practice rounds on Thursday, March 29, 10 a.m.-noon and 1-5 p.m. are open to the media. Media may also interview students and mentors working on their robots in the pit areas. Media should check in at the registration table.

Two arenas full of screaming fans and more than 120 high school teams from Minnesota and surrounding states are extending the state tournament frenzy another week at the Minnesota Regional FIRST Robotics Competitions, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday, March 30-31, at the University of Minnesota’s Williams and Mariucci arenas. The championship matches are 1-4:15 p.m. Saturday, March 31, when there will be nonstop robot action. The event is free and open to the public.

The University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering is one of the sponsors of the event.

Often called the “varsity sport for the mind,” FIRST Robotics combines the excitement of sport with the rigors of science and technology. Under strict rules, limited resources and time limits, teams are challenged to raise funds, design a team brand, improve teamwork skills and build and program robots to perform prescribed tasks against a field of competitors. It’s about as close to “real-world engineering” as a student can get. More than 58,000 high school students from around the world are part of FIRST Robotics Competition teams.

This year’s game, called “Rebound Rumble,” is played on a 27-by-54-foot field. Two robot alliances, one red and one blue, composed of three teams each, compete in matches of two minutes and 15 seconds. The competing robots are nearly three feet by four feet and stand up to five feet tall.

The object of this year’s game is to drop as many basketballs in hoops as possible. Balls dropped in higher hoops score more points. Alliances are awarded bonus points if they are balanced on bridges at the end of the match.

To watch a video simulation of this year’s game, visit

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FIRST Robotics teams will compete at Williams and Mariucci arenas March 30-31

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