More MPS students competing this year as robotics teams take on basketball

MILWAUKEE – Students from seven Milwaukee Public Schools high schools are downtown readying their robots as they get set to compete on Friday in what might best be described as games of robotic basketball.

Three more MPS schools will be competing in this year’s FIRST Robotics Competition Wisconsin Regional than did last year. The number of students has grown as well.

Four teams representing seven MPS schools will compete at the 2012 FIRST Robotics Wisconsin Regional. Clockwise from top-left: James Madison Academic Campus, Riverside University High School, Bradley Tech/School of Languages/Rufus King/Washington IT and Northwest Secondary/School of Career and Technical Education

Four teams representing seven MPS schools will compete at the 2012 FIRST Robotics Wisconsin Regional. Clockwise from top-left: James Madison Academic Campus, Riverside University High School, Bradley Tech/School of Languages/Rufus King/Washington IT and Northwest Secondary/School of Career and Technical Education

“We’re excited that more of our students are getting involved,” MPS career and technical education coordinator Lauren Baker said. “Our kids will work hard, have fun, compete fairly and, in the process, learn a ton about science, technology, engineering and math.”

For the competition, teams of young people and their mentors are given a six-week time frame to solve a common challenge using a standard “kit of parts” and a common set of rules. This year’s challenge? “Rebound Rumble.” As the name suggests, teams will have to use their robots to shoot foam basketballs into hoops from spots on the 27-foot by 54-foot court. You can watch an animated demonstration of the game here: http://www.youtube.com/user/FRCTeamsGlobal

Opening ceremonies for the competition self-described as a ‘varsity sport for the mind’ are set for 9 a.m. Friday at the U.S. Cellular Arena. The first matches are set for 9:30 a.m. and finals are set for Saturday. Schedules for the individual teams will be released Friday morning and reporters can contact Tony Tagliavia, MPS media manager, at 414.475.8675 to find when district teams are competing.

New teams from James Madison Academic Campus and the School of Career and Technical Education are joining the competition this year. Milwaukee School of Languages is now contributing to the team that includes Bradley Tech, Rufus King International School and Washington High School of Information Technology students. Riverside University High School continues to support its own team.

The Bradley Tech-School of Languages-Rufus King-Washington IT team – dubbed “Team 1675” – will be competing on home turf after returning from another regional competition in Pittsburgh. Team 1675 (www.team1675.com) won the chairman’s award at a regional competition in Chicago last year and went on to the national competition in St. Louis.

FIRST, or ‘For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology,’ encourages fierce competition but also “gracious professionalism” – treating one another with respect and kindness. That means students are rewarded for using their expertise to help competitors solve problems. Teams are honored for excellence in design, demonstrated team spirit, gracious professionalism and maturity and ability to overcome obstacles.

A group of younger MPS students are set to compete later this year in the state tournament for the grade-four-through-eight sister competition of FIRST Robotics: the FIRST LEGO League.

Reporters interested in catching some of the robotic basketball action on Friday should contact Tony Tagliavia, MPS media manager, at 414.475.8675.