Ashland High School's FIRST Robotics Team is one of 500 teams being sponsored this year by J.C. Penney Company Inc. as part of a national program.

Ashland High School's FIRST Robotics Team is one of 500 teams being sponsored this year by J.C. Penney Company Inc. as part of a national program.

For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology is a not-for-profit organization founded by Dean Kamen to inspire young people's interest and participation in science and technology by engaging them in robotics competitions.

AHS is a third-year veteran team that is spending six weeks designing and building an original robot for the FIRST Regional Competition, scheduled for March in Portland.

AHS received this year's challenge, "LOGO MOTION," a kit of parts made up of motors, batteries, a control system, a PC and a mix of automation components — but no instructions. Working with professional engineering mentors, the team has six weeks to build a robot that can maneuver a field flanked by poles and earn points by hanging as many triangle, circle and square logo pieces on each pole as possible.

Bonus points will be awarded for each robot that can hang and assemble logo pieces to form the FIRST logo as well as deploy a "mini-bot" to climb vertical poles positioned within the middle of the field. Competitions measure the effectiveness of each team's robot and the students' ability to collaborate effectively.

The 2011 FIRST Championship will be held April 27-30 at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, Mo. This season, participating FRC high school students are eligible to apply for more than $14 million in scholarships from leading universities and colleges.