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FIRST Robotics Challenge kicks off

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: FIRST Robotics Challenge kicks off
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A centuries old game goes high-tech as this year's FIRST Robotics Challenge is unveiled in Manchester, New Hampshire. YNN's Shazia Khan has more.

NEW HAMPSHIRE -- Their eyes and ears eager with anticipation. Students gathered in Manchester, New Hampshire Saturday for the annual FIRST Robotics competition kickoff.
Through NASA TV's global broadcast, more than 2,500 high school teams from the east coast to the far east learned their mission for this year's challenge, Ultimate Ascent. The goal? To have the robots throw discs and score points.

“I can't throw Frisbees myself, so I'm curious how to make a robot how to do it,” said Brianna Russell of Team 1922.

Each team gets six weeks to design and build their bot from an identical kit of parts. It's filled with motors, bolts and other building blocks. What the students won't find in their kit is instructions.

“There are very few times ever on the planet in one's lifetime that you see over 2,000 solutions to the same problem,” said FIRST National Advisor Woodie Flowers.

Students and mentors at the kickoff got a closer look at the field of play and were busy taking measurements and planning strategy.

“I have the height of the pyramid, height of the plastic height of how often they are rungs and how big dispensers are. It should be helpful in the design of the robot,” said Matthius with Team 3585.

FIRST stands For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology. Inventor Dean Kamen founded the organization in 1989 and continues to challenge its young participants.

“Not one of these students won't look you in the eye at the end when they're tired, exhausted, frustrated and everyone of them would look you in the eye and say, but I can't wait to come back next year because I got more out of it than I put into it and I put in everything I had,” Kamen said.

More than $16 million of scholarship money is also up for grabs.

“I'm hoping to go to engineering school or something like that,” said Walker Babson of Team 3958. “I'm hoping this is going to open up a lot of opportunities.”

Winners from the regionals head to St. Louis for the finals at the end of April.

Time Warner Cable is the parent company of YNN and we are committed to the Connect a Million Minds program, inspiring youth to develop science, technology, engineering and math skills. For more information on the initiative, go to connectamillionminds.com.

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