Special to KPUA.net by H.I.E.D.B
Botball Robotics Tournament Scores Big In Local Schools
Hawaii Island Economic Development Board is a private non-profit organization whose mission is, "To provide and promote private-sector support and expertise for balanced economic growth in Hawaii County, in partnership with federal, state, county and private resources."
Robot Ball, "botball" lingo for short, is all the rage with many island students. With support from Hawaii Space Grant Consortium (University of Hawaii at Manoa), NASA Ames Research Center, KISS Institute for Practical Robotic (http://www.kipr.org), Hawaiian Electric Company, and other partners, as many as 30 middle and high school teams will participate in the 13th Botball Robotics Regional Tournament March 13, 2004 on Oahu.
During an intense seven weeks of learning teams design, build and program mobile, autonomous robots to accomplish specific tasks to score points by moving balls into scoring zones. The Hawaii Space Grant Consortium committed necessary funds for hosting the regional in Hawaii. Other corporate sponsors are being approached about additional sponsorship. The Women in Technology (WIT) grant administered by Hawaii Island Economic Development Board, a gender equity grant to catalyze female interest in future technology careers, is providing some financial aid to several Big Island teams.
The NASA Ames Research Center has provided $10,000 in financial aid specifically to support Hawaii schools. In addition to the Centeršs commitment to the Botball program, NASA selected Waimea Middle School as one of the nation's 50 new NASA Explorer Schools. The school is now finalizing an action plan focused on math, science and technology.
Botball (http://www.botball.org) is designed to engage students in learning the practical applications of science, technology, engineering and math. The program includes a two-day workshop in Honolulu for teachers and mentors. That workshop includes designing, building and programming a mobile robot. At the end of the session, each team returns to their schools with a customized $1000 Lego robot kit that includes sensors, cameras and programming software. Students are given seven weeks to complete the building of their teamšs mobile robot while maintaining a documentation web site of their robot-building process. Teams then meet at the Botball regional in Honolulu and compete with each other on a four-foot by eight-foot playing field in a high-energy tournament. Robots are completely student built and pre-programmed to maneuver on the game board. When the game starts, students step back. The robots must start, stop, and play the game by themselves without being guided by remote control.
Students also conduct Internet research on various current robotics topics. They use the research to participate in a web site design contest, which involves creatively solving a current robotics problem. Some Hawaii teams may compete at the KISS Institutešs National Conference on Educational Robotics in June 2004 in California. At that time, students can interact with professionals in the field of robotics.
Botball is a fun, accessible program that leaves schools with robotics equipment that can be reprogrammed and used for years to come. The program involves science, technology, engineering, math, computer programming, Internet research and web design, creative problem solving, teamwork and leadership.
With dozens of schools statewide indicating interest in participating, Hawaii leads the nation in the number of teams registered at the Botball web site. Hawaii Island schools registered include Keaau Middle School, Keaau High School, Waiakea Intermediate School, Hawaii Preparatory Academy (HPA), Waimea Middle School, Kohala Middle School, and Honokaa High School. In addition, JustThink Mobile/Earlšs Garage will be collaborating with the Waimea Middle School team.
Teams can consist of a teacher-facilitator-advisor, six to fifteen students and a community mentor. Other schools, mentors, or sponsors interested may contact Art Kimura, Hawaii Space Grant Consortium, 934-7261 or email email@example.com, for further information. Registration cost per team is $2300. Registration includes the $1000 robotics kit. Kohala Middle School and Honokaa High School have already received full team registration grants from a generous community foundation and individuals.
If continued as an annual event, Hawaii Island could serve as host to the 2005 Hawaii Botball robotics regional. Through the assistance of the Japan America Society of Hawaii, teams from Japan will be invited to participate in future Botball tournaments in Hawaii. Waiakea High School, sponsored in part by a WIT grant, and Hawaii Preparatory Academy, participated this past spring in a "FIRST" (For Recognition and Inspiration of Science and Technology) robotics program in Seattle. The Botball program complements the "FIRST" robotics program. Hilo High School is planning to participate in "FIRST" along with Waiakea and HPA in 2004.
So get with the lingo, the lingo is "Botball" for many Hawaii Island schools.
Focus on the Economy is written for Hawaii Island Economic Development Board, Roberta Chu, chair / Paula Helfrich, president. Readers with comments, questions or suggestions should check the web site www.hiedb.org . Or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call HIEDB, 966-5416. An archive of Focus on the Economy columns is available on the web site.
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