HomeNews & MediaPress ReleasesPress Release 
April 28, 2003
For Immediate Release

Media Contact
Kristi Marren
Phone: 240-228-6268

APL Hosts Student Robotic Competition May 6

Media Invited to Attend Educational Event

More than 400 middle school students from 22 schools across Maryland will compete in the third annual TEAMS (Technology Education Alliance with Middle Schools) science and technology competition May 6 at The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md. Schools from Baltimore City and Baltimore, Prince Georges, Montgomery, Carroll and Howard counties are participating in this year's event.

Through robotic games, the TEAMS program is designed to show middle school students how teaming enables them to solve technology problems that could not be solved individually, and relate this concept to the design and construction of spacecraft.

This year's robotic competition is based on Harry Potter's favorite game, Quidditch. Each student team will design, build and operate three robots that will compete against those of other teams in the game of Robo-Quidditch. Rather than flying broomstick-type games, students will task their remotely controlled robots with a series of complex maneuvers involving three different size balls on a regulation-size ping pong table. Each team will employ one robot to chase balls to the opponents' side of the table while another robot tries to prevent opponents from doing the same. A third robot on each team will score additional points by simultaneously maneuvering a weighted, wobbly ball into a designated section of the playing field. Trophies will be awarded to the three teams with the highest scores, with additional awards for best teamwork, best robot design, and sportsmanship.

For five to six months prior to the competition, students spend a few hours each week on classroom activities focusing on teamwork and the use of technology. "Our activities present students with realistic challenges that require them to work together over extended periods of time to achieve success," says Dave Weidow, founder of TEAMS and a teacher at The Odyssey School, Stevenson, Md.

"This competition is a fun way for students to learn and practice teamwork skills, and helps them understand how teamwork and technology can be applied to space technology careers," says Kerri Beisser, of APL's Space Department Education and Public Outreach Office.

Media are invited to attend the event, which begins at 8:30 a.m. at APL's Kossiakoff Center and includes photo opportunities. Interested members of the press should contact Kristi Marren for more information. APL, a division of The Johns Hopkins University, is located at 11100 Johns Hopkins Road, Laurel, Maryland.

The event is sponsored by The Odyssey School, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, a.i. solutions, Computer Sciences Corporation, Discovery Networks, Comcast, and APL.

For more information regarding the TEAMS competition, a diagram detailing the competition's objectives, or a list of participating schools, visit www.teams.jhuapl.edu.

The Applied Physics Laboratory, a division of The Johns Hopkins University, meets critical national challenges through the innovative application of science and technology. For information, visit www.jhuapl.edu.