April 22, 2008 FIRST, an organization inspiring kids to engage in science and technology, has crowned this year’s champions at its annual science showdown. The 2008 FIRST Championship at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta recognized winners across three categories: Robotics Competition, Tech Challenge, and LEGO League.

The FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) organization aims to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders, by creating fun activities for them to get involved in.

“FIRST is inspiring the next generation of innovators and engineers,” said FIRST founder and inventor, Dean Kamen. “Years from now, some of the students who competed in the Georgia Dome will be inventing solutions to society's most challenging problems." As a not-for-profit organization, FIRST offers innovative programs that motivate young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math while building life skills. Teams earned their invitations to the Championship by excelling in competitive play, sportsmanship, and the development of partnerships among schools, businesses and communities.

The FIRST Robotics Competition invited teams of students to construct robots from a kit of hundred of parts. This year’s Championship game, called “FIRST Overdrive,” tested students and their robots’ ability race around a track knocking down 40" inflated Trackballs and moving them around the track, passing them either over or under a 6'6" overpass. The Robotics Competition was won by an alliance of students from Greenville High School in Texas (“Robowranglers”), Utica Community Schools from Michigan; (“ThunderChickens”; and Governor Simcoe Secondary School from Canada (“Simbotics”). The “Falcon Robotics” team from Carl Hayden High School in Arizona took out the prestigious FIRST Robotics Competition Championship Chairman’s Award, recognizing it as the team that best represents a model for other teams to emulate and best embodies the purpose and goals of FIRST.

The FIRST Tech Challenge World Championship Inspire Award, recognizing excellence in robot design and teamwork, went to the “Panteras” team from Mexico. Approximately 1,000 high-school students used a modular robotics kit to compete in the “Quad Quandary” Tech Challenge, in which students’ robots placed 3-inch rings on goals and moved goals around the field. The winning alliance in this division was the “Beach Cities Robotics” team from California with the “Mr. T” and “Team Overdrive” teams from New Jersey.

The final category, FIRST LEGO League World Festival, saw 81 teams from around the globe participate in this year’s “Power Puzzle”. The real-life task challenged students, aged 9 to 14, to design, build, and program robots to explore sustainable options to meet our planet’s growing energy needs in environmentally sound ways. Top honors went to Champion’s Award 1st Place winner, the “External Fusion” team from Singapore; 2nd Place winner, the “Pixelation” team from Minnesota; and 3rd Place winner, “Power Peeps” team from Michigan. The Champion’s Award measures how teams inspire and motivate others about the excitement and wonders of science and technology, while demonstrating gracious professionalism.

View gallery - 4 images