Team 2152/Chairman's 2010
Chairman's Award Submission
We are team 2152 from Volusia County, Florida. Our team name is S*M*A*S*H! (Super-nerds Making Advanced Solutions through Heuristics). Most of our team attends Spruce Creek High School, but we do have members that are from Mainland High School and New Smyrna Beach High School. We are a young team, only four years old, but we have developed rapidly in those four years. Our main objectives are to display gracious professionalism by helping others succeed, yet still have a competitive side.
One of our major demonstrations to the community was in October of 2009. Our school was named "Cool School of the Week" in Central Florida by FOX News, during which we were interviewed by the newscaster. We displayed our 2009 FRC Competition Robot and talked about our past competitions, inviting the Central Florida community to our FTC Qualifier Competition (Robotfest) which was to take place that next weekend in order to help us spread the word of FIRST to the entire school and community. Later, we attended the Academy Showcase, which took place at our county's fairground. This showcase was for upcoming high school students to come and see all of the opportunities at our school. Our 2009 FRC Robot was again displayed as we talked to soon-to-be high school students and answered any questions they had. In addition, for the past two years, we have gone to Cypress Creek Elementary School to help out at their annual science fair and have fun with the students; we encouraged them to become interested in science and technology and to pursue their dreams. In February 2010 we traveled to the Daytona Beach Rotary Club where we not only presented last year's robot, but we also brought our current in-progress robot. There we educated the businessmen in our community about the robotics club at our local schools and of the benefits of spreading FIRST everywhere.
Opening Our Doors
Another thing that makes Team 2152 unique is the opportunity that our team gives to other students from different high schools. When we initially started as a FRC team, we only had students from Spruce Creek High School; however, in the past two years, we have opened our doors to the local high schools that do not have the funding to pay for their own teams. We currently include students from Mainland High School and New Smyrna Beach High School in addition to the students from Spruce Creek High School. A new high school is also opening in the fall of 2010, and we have already contacted their head of technology and helped create a plan to include their school's students - we are not only a local team from local high schools, we are a cross-county team.
For all of the expenses that a robotics team requires, we definitely have to do fundraising. To our team, fundraising is not only for raising money, but it is also a great way to get the community involved with our robotics club. For instance, we held a Pancake Breakfast at a local restaurant. The students and families of the FRC team sold tickets to an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast where the student had the opportunity to socialize with the citizens in our community. There were one-on-one conversations between students and the locals. We were given a chance not only to tell others about our robotics experiences and the values that we have received from participating in FIRST events, but we also heard many stories about how technology has evolved so rapidly in such a small amount of time. We never completely realized how much we depended on technology for our everyday lives until this interaction.
Our other main fundraising event is Robotfest (FTC Qualifier Competition). As for the money, we sell T-Shirts and items in the concession stands as well as advertising through sponsors on our T-shirts. But it is also the best way for our community to get a chance to see our robotics teams in action. We advertised this event through our FOX broadcast when we were "Cool School of the Week" as well as put this event in our school newspaper so that our whole school of 3,000 students was invited to this competition. The best part of this competition for the FRC members was going out into the community to talk with businesses about our robotics teams and some of our experiences.
"I absolutely loved having the opportunity to go to the smaller businesses in Port Orange and talking with managers and employees about my experience with robots. I especially remember the discussion I had with the owner of a local flower shop. The woman was so excited to hear about the robot that we built. I showed her pictures of the robot and she was surprised at how amazing the robot looked. She was also very glad to know that women have come a long way in society. She was glad that women were allowed to part of the technology world, where there was once no women at all. I invited her to come to our competition, and she and her friends arrived just as the competition commenced," said Katie, FRC team member.
Our corporate sponsor for the 2009 competition was NASA for the Lunacy Challenge, and we have also had the International Speedway Corporation for the 2009 Competition. Currently our sponsors are Halifax Health, the Admission Advisor, and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU). The professors and students at ERAU especially help us out, because they are able to make parts for us, and the students are mentors for our FRC team in addition to the professors help out with our competitions.
The Academy of Information Technology and Robotics (AITR) is an academy that is part of the National Academy Foundation (NAF). The FRC team of the robotics club inspired our teacher/sponsor to create a system that implemented innovation, engineering, and programming into our daily lives as students. So, with the robotics team in mind, she founded an academy that could be integrated into our high school curriculum. For the first four years, the academy was just an elective; but coming in the fall of 2010, the AITR will become an all day program as a substitute to the traditional high school schedule and curriculum. The student will be learning their core education requirements such as Math and English but they also have project based learning that will be centered around technology and innovative learning styles.
Sponsoring FTC Teams
One of the best features of Team 2152 is the mentoring that goes on between the FTC and FRC teams. Our team sponsors four FTC teams and each team consists of ten people; the teams that we sponsor are Teams 128, 132, 531, and 532. We supply the meeting space for the teams, the use of tools and equipment, and we also mentor the teams with members of the FRC team. We especially saw the need to teach the FTC members about the engineering notebook. We taught the correct format for the notebooks along with the importance of keeping an engineering notebook. Also, to keep them interested in professional robotics, we took all of the FTC teams to ERAU to tour their robotics club and for the students to see what they could be a part of in the future. Having the opportunity to support and mentor the student in their FTC endeavors is priceless. Every time that we are teaching the FTC members, we learn new things about robotics that we have never thought about before. Each time we mentor we greet an entirely new situation.
Team 2152 has been hosting Robotfest (the FIRST Technical Challenge Qualifier Competition) at Spruce Creek High School for the last three years, but we will only focus on the last two years. In 2008 we hosted twenty-eight teams from all over Florida, and in 2009 we hosted sixteen teams. At these events many of the students from local high schools and citizens from the community are invited to come to this event and see what FIRST is all about. We not only compete, but we are given the chance to meet with other teams and hear different types of stories. This is also a great opportunity to tell the professionals in our area about FIRST and robotics. When we go out to get sponsors and judges, we always invite them and they always enjoy participating in Robotfest.
FIRST Lego League (FLL) Sponsorship
For all four years that Team 2152 has been in operation, we have sponsored FLL teams at a local middle school. We are currently sponsoring and mentoring two FLL teams at Creekside Middle School (CMS). This is especially important to the members of the FRC team because some of us attended CMS for our middle school education and it is a great opportunity to give back to the school that helped shape some of our lives. We love to encourage the middle school students because they will also be part of technology in the near future. It is a great challenge for some of the children, and it also motivates them to come to school.
The opportunity to work with engineers and programmers in the community is amazing. We are able to see were we may be in the next ten years of our lives. We are given the chance to learn from the professionals that have the most knowledge- real experience. We especially appreciate the mentors from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and their assistance with machining parts and student volunteers/mentors.
Throughout the past few years that we have been a team with FIRST, we have experienced and learned more than we ever have with any other robotics organization. Even though we have achieved so many things in such a short amount of time, we still have many more things to accomplish. Being part of such an influential and energetic organization has really pushed our team to the next level.