Grand Valley Sets FIRST Kickoff: Nearly 550 high school students and parents will gather at Grand Valley State University for the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology Robotics Competition kickoff event Saturday, Jan. 5. About 40 FIRST Robotics teams from high schools throughout West Michigan will learn about this year’s game field and challenge. The event will include a speech by Apex Controls president Mike TeBos and a live broadcast from the national kick-off event in New Hampshire where FIRST founder Dean Kamen will help introduce this year’s challenge. Teams will have six weeks to design and build robots to compete in the West Michigan district competition, which will take place at Grand Valley from March 22-23. The kickoff will be held in Room 201 of the Eberhard Center on Grand Valley’s Pew Grand Rapids Campus beginning at 9:30 a.m. (doors open at 8 a.m.). At noon, teams will go to the first floor of Keller Engineering Labs, next to the Eberhard Center, to see game elements and pick up their kits. Rooms will be available for teams who want to start brainstorming. The 2013 season will include an estimated 2,355 teams — nearly 60,000 high school students — participating in 68 regional and district events worldwide. FIRST was founded in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. Learn more at www.usfirst.org.