The NBA playoffs may just have gotten underway, but a basketball competition of a different kind came to a close in St. Louis, the FIRST Robotics championship. NY1's Shazia Khan filed the following report.
It was a moment 402 robotics teams from around the world had their hearts set on, but only three cinched the FIRST Robotics Championship Title on Saturday.
Team 16 from Mountainhome, Ark., Team 25 from North Brunswick, N.J. and Team 180 from Stuart, Fla. made up the winning alliance, playing defense and shooting hoops in the "Rebound Rumble."
They, like all the other robotics teams who descended on the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis for the three-day long championship, constructed their ball-playing bots in six weeks from a box of nuts and bolts and other spare parts.
While there could only be one winning alliance, students said the experience was the ultimate prize.
"I learned many skills I wouldn't have learned. I decided my career, it made me part of a new family," said Rafael Rodriguez of Team 207 from Hawthorne, Calif.
"Even though we didn't win, we did what we had to do. We were all a team and we really enjoyed this experience," said Grecia Lizarraga of Team 207.
The winning teams received a trophy a banner and bragging rights, but it was also a chance a to inspire others to join robotics.
"That's the whole goal of this program, is to get students interested in science and technology," said Alex Anderson of Team 16.
There were no shortage of fans at the competition. Thousands filled the bleachers at any given time, cheering on the different teams and their mechanical athletes.
While the students battled it out in the arena, the founder of FIRST, Dean Kamen, met with corporate supporters to ensure the program continues. Glenn Britt, the chairman and CEO of Time Warner Cable, NY1's parent company, was at the meeting.
"It just takes one little thing to spark that interest in somebody. Through Connect A Million Minds, the effort we started in 2009, we're trying to make young people aware of opportunities in their communities," said Britt.
For more information on programs that engage young people in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, visit www.connectamillionminds.com.