Press Release for Monday, July 11, 2005

International Robotics Tournament Returns Home

Contact: Joanna Norris
Department of Media Relations and Events
(904) 620-2102

Get ready for a high-energy, high-tech educational experience as the International Botball Tournament heads to the University of North Florida, the original home of Botball. More than 50 teams internationally and from across the nation will be competing on campus July 14-17 at the University Center. Among the competitors are four teams from Jacksonville, including Bishop Kenny and Episcopal high schools, as well as Landrum and Mayport middle schools.

The International Botball Tournament is for middle and high school students. Participants compete against each other on a 4-foot by 8-foot playing field in a fast-paced, nondestructive tournament. Robots are built by students and are computer programmed to maneuver on the game board. Once the game starts, students step back and the robots take control, starting, stopping and playing the game by themselves, without being guided by remote control. Team scores include not only tournament performance but also the quality of on-line documentation each team prepares as part of the Botball program.

Team practice sessions will be held on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. until 9 a.m. The International Botball Tournament seeding rounds will be held this Friday from 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. The Botball Double Elimination Tournament will be this Sunday from 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.

In 1997, Dr. Charles Winton, UNF professor of computer and information sciences, helped design the Botball program for middle and high school students, which prior to that had only been open to adults. “At the time, we had no idea what the students would be able to accomplish but were astounded by the level of sophistication they demonstrated at the inaugural tournament,” he said. “The technology has substantially improved over time, so we are seeing even greater complexity today.” Currently, 13 regional tournaments are held around the country, and UNF continues to host the annual Florida regional competition.

This robotics program gives students hands-on experience in designing, building and programming a team of robots, while developing leadership, teamwork and project management skills that will prepare students for the future workforce.

Botball Educational Robotics Programs are presented by the KISS Institute for Practical Robotics, a nonprofit organization dedicated to linking people and technology through robotics, KISS Institute is sponsored by the NASA Robotics Education Project, American Honda Foundation, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Naval Research Laboratory and Fairfax Education Foundation.

For more information about Botball, go to