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Ever dreamed of creating an army of robots that could be launched into space to explore new worlds? Now is your chance. Area high school students throughout Mississippi and Louisiana are invited to participate in a pilot Swarmathon competition that challenges them to develop revolutionary robotic swarms for use in space missions.

The higher education event was launched in 2016, with its second annual competition set for Kennedy Space Center in Florida during late April. The High School Swarmathon virtual event piggybacks on the NASA competition that involves universities and community colleges.

The high school competition is in its first year, and Stennis has openings for 20 area teams to compete. Participating students will be challenged to develop algorithms for robotic swarms. The exercise will help students develop skills in robotics and computer science and also advance NASA technology for future space exploration efforts.

The objective is to enable small robotic swarms that can operate independently or as a coordinated group, much like ants. Such swarms can be used by explorers on other planets to search for and collect resources from the surrounding area.

Teams have until Feb. 15 to enter the Swarmathon challenge. Their final algorithm code must be submitted by April 15. The high school competition is designed as a virtual contest using a high-level programming language.

A series of tutorial modules are available for competing students. In the five modules, students are introduced to the programming language, the Swarmathon concept and various types of design strategies. The fifth module actually serves as the team’s final submission to the competition.

Teams may enter from any Mississippi or Louisiana high school but must have a faculty mentor and coach.

Interested teams should contact April McIntosh at april.l.mcintosh@nasa.gov.

For more information on entering the Swarmathon competition, visit:
http://nasaswarmathon.com/outreach

To more about Stennis education, visit:
https://www.nasa.gov/centers/stennis/education/index.html

For more information about Stennis Space Center, visit:
www.nasa.gov/centers/stennis/

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