Robots get set to play ball

TEAMS OF students from five local high schools will put their robots to the test in the UAE BOTBALL competition this Saturday in Dubai American Academy. The students have been busy designing, building and programming their Lego© Mindstorm robots ...

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Published: Wed 23 Apr 2008, 11:27 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 2:45 PM

for the past seven weeks in preparation for the competition that is hosted by Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar.

The teams will compete against each other on a playing field the size of a ping-pong table in a high energy, non-destructive tournament.

Participating schools are: Al Mawakeb School – Al Barsha, Al Mawakeb School – Al Garhoud, International School of Arts & Sciences, Dubai American Academy and the American Community School of Abu Dhabi.

“BOTBALL is a great activity for teenagers. They learn a lot about how to be technically creative, and they learn to use math, physics and programming in a useful way,” says Brett Browning, Ph.D., systems scientist at Carnegie Mellon. “Carnegie Mellon is so excited to see how much BOTBALL has grown in the region. It’s now spread across four countries and our goal is to take it to the entire Middle East.”

BOTBALL is a U.S.-based organisation that introduces robotics to high schools. Student teams are equipped with a Lego© Mindstorm robot, along with instruction on how to programme it to move autonomously through a course.

The programming sessions conclude with a challenge — student teams are pitted against one another to see whose robot completes the course. The winning team also must demonstrate the work they’ve done in order to programme their robot.

The top two teams from the UAE will go on to compete in the Regional BOTBALL Championship on May 24 at the Diplomatic Club in Doha. These teams will square off against the top two teams from the BOTBALL competitions in Qatar, Kuwait and Egypt.

The winning team of the May 24 final will receive a trip to Norman, Oklahoma, USA to attend the 2008 Global Conference on Educational Robotics and meet middle school and high school students, educators, robotics enthusiasts, and professionals from across the world.

Additionally, Al Jazeera Children’s Channel is airing a six-part documentary on BOTBALL. The dates and times will be announced on the day of the tournament.

For more information on BOTBALL in Qatar, visit

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