CHATSWORTH WHIZ KIDS TAKE NATIONAL PRIZE FOR ROBOTICS.
CHATSWORTH - Chatsworth High School robot makers won top national honors in Florida this past weekend for a science program recognized for mentoring younger students, officials said Monday.
By winning the FIRST National Robotics Championship Chairman's Award in Orlando on Saturday, Chatsworth High swept a field of 336 finalists for the prestigious prize.
``This is the biggest award FIRST has that every team in the country is shooting for,'' said Jason Morrella, West Coast organizer for FIRST, a nonprofit New Hampshire-based organization whose goal is to motivate students to study science in college.
``They were recognized for having the top team in the nation. What they pulled off is amazing.''
Chatsworth is one of 550 schools nationwide that builds competitive robots under the auspices of the organization, whose acronym signifies For Inspiration and Recognition for Science and Technology.
Under the direction of science teacher Wendy Wooten, Chatsworth placed in the middle of its division Saturday for a contraption designed to perform near-impossible tasks with beach- and weather-balloon-size balls in under two minutes.
But the whiz-kids were recognized for a much greater feat: As science gurus for San Fernando Valley high school robot competitors and for mentoring a dozen middle school teams.
``We are very proud. L.A. Unified always likes to bring home a winner,'' said Deborah Leidner, superintendent of the northwest Valley district that includes Chatsworth High. ``Not only do they have a good team, but they sponsor other teams at other schools.
``It's a credit to them.''
The Chatsworth High robotics team is underwritten by a $45,000 grant from local industries.
Two Redondo Beach High Schools, Redondo Union High School and Mira Costa High School - won the National Champion award for best robot, a team honor shared by five high schools that commandeered the winning machine.
Lancaster High School, whose team worked through energy-crisis blackouts to cobble together their robot, finished 74th out of 85 schools in its division.