Forty-five high school robotics teams from around the West have converged on Madera South High School for a weekend competition.
It's the third annual FIRST Robotics Competition, 2014 Central Valley Regional.
Local event organizers say FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) was founded in 1989 by inventor Dean Kamen to inspire young people to pursue careers in science and technology. The teams, with their mentors, get six weeks to brainstorm, design, construct, problem-solve and test their 120-pound robot. Regional qualifiers advance to the FIRST World Championship, April 23-26 at the Edwards Jones Dome, home of the St. Louis Rams of the National Football League.
FIRST team members are also eligible for more than $19 million in scholarships.
This year's competition challenge is "Aerial Assist," a lacrosse-like game with 24-inch exercise balls.
The event is free and open to the public. Teams held practice matches Friday. Saturday's qualification matches are from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5:45 p.m. On Sunday, qualification matches are from 9 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., followed by final rounds from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Both days there are opening ceremonies and closing awards ceremonies.