theodp writes: In South Park's Pinewood Derby episode, a father steals a superconducting magnet from the Large Hadron Collider to help his son win the annual state Pinewood Derby (the car reaches warp speed, shooting off the track and into space). It's a tale that no doubt rings true with every Cub Scout who went down to defeat at the hands of other kids whose engineer Dads had access to tools like the wind tunnel at NASA. Well, on Saturday, the 2013 FIRST Robotics Competition kicked off, and — much like the Pinewood Derby — mentoring by adult engineers there doesn't hurt one's chances of winning. So, any advice for 'ordinary' high schools going up against the likes of FIRST Robotics Teams sponsored and mentored by NASA? FIRST Robotics Team 254's Lab at NASA Ames Research Center, for instance, includes 'an 80% size practice field as well as a small machine shop, workspace, computer lab and meeting space.' Not surprisingly, Team 254 won the 2011 FIRST Championship.
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