'Rebound Rumble': The March Madness Of Science Competitions | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

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'Rebound Rumble': The March Madness Of Science Competitions

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Kayode Ayorinde is a junior track star who brings a lot to his team, because he does robotics in his own time.
Markette Smith
Kayode Ayorinde is a junior track star who brings a lot to his team, because he does robotics in his own time.

It's March Madness for high school students, as 60 teams from the region and across the country compete in what's called the "Rebound Rumble." This isn't your normal high school hoops matchup. Yes, there's music, cheering and a basketball court, but the students aren't the athletes, robots are. And the students are the mad scientists behind it all.

Six weeks ago, the teams were handed a $6,000 toolkit and told to "create!"

Because of the high cost of participation, many schools, like D.C.'s Bell Multicultural High School team had to find sponsors.

"That allowed us to purchase all the parts and be competitive which is exciting because most of these students come from backgrounds where their parents can't support the team," says math teacher Brian Wheeler.

Wheeler is coaching the team, which is made up of a variety of kids, including a track star, a kid who used to goof off all the time in class, and then the computer whiz, Milkyas Tessema.

"I came in here not knowing anything about programming and I was able to learn about how we process the image through the camera and we're able to center the hoops using the camera," explains Tessema.

Wheeler says Tessema's talents would have largly gone untapped if weren't for this robotics competition.

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