Summer 2017 Newsletter

During the summer of 2017, FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) team 525 Swartdogs participated in several outreach events and held workshops for students to learn skills needed during the build season.

DSCN1282                Sturgis Falls

Sturgis Falls2                 Sturgis Falls4

We began our summer outreach events by organizing the first ever FIRST Robotics Showcase at Sturgis Falls.  The showcase provided opportunities for visitors to learn what FIRST is and how to get involved.  Because the event featured all four programs, visitors saw the progression of the FIRST programs, especially how the robots change and grow with the students.  A FIRST LEGO League Jr. (FLL Jr.) team showed their motorized LEGO model, demonstrating the interaction between bees and bears.  They explained what they learned throughout the season and how they programmed the model.  Two FIRST LEGO League (FLL) teams demonstrated their robots.  They showed the programs that they wrote and explained how their robots worked.  People also had the opportunity to learn how to program an NXT robot.  Several FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) teams demonstrated their robots and allowed visitors to drive the robots.  They also explained how their robots worked and the season’s game.  Finally, local FRC teams (including our team) demonstrated their robots throughout the afternoon through multiple matches on part of a field.  We also showed videos of matches at multiple Regionals.  Plus throughout the day, 525 team members also explained the various FIRST programs to interested visitors.

At the end of June, we travelled to Iowa State University campus for the Iowa 4-H Youth Conference.  There we led workshops where we explained what FIRST is and its four programs.  Specifically, we encouraged participants to start FIRST teams in their schools or through their county’s 4-H programs.  We ended the workshop by allowing participants to try driving our robots.

4-H Conference

In July, we helped at the Rivers Edge 10K by handing out food and water and volunteering where needed.  We want to thank the run’s organizers for their donation to the team.

In late July, we organized and led a three day workshop for mentors of new or young FRC teams.  For the second year in a row, we partnered with the University of Northern Iowa to teach the mentors topics such as student leadership and organization and tool usage.

2017 Mentor Workshop2                 2017 Mentor Workshop

In mid-August, we partnered with other Iowa FIRST teams at the Iowa State Fair to demonstrate our robots and explain what FIRST is.  Our main goal through this demonstration was to promote the Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council’s Scale-up Programs, highlighting that FRC is one of these programs.  To further help fair visitors learn about FIRST, we assisted team 3928 Team Neutrino and team 4646 Team ASAP in presenting a skit explaining FIRST and FRC.  We were very excited that the president of FIRST, Donald Bossi, came and supported the teams at this event.

State Fair                 State Fair2

We ended our summer outreach events by promoting the Cedar Falls FIRST robotics teams at the backpack nights for Holmes and Peet Junior Highs.  Our goal was to introduce junior high students to FIRST so that they would join either a FTC team or our team.  We demonstrated our robot and showed FTC robots.  We were very excited with the long sign up list at both schools and are looking forward to helping new ninth graders become involved with our team.

Junior High Demonstrations

Throughout the summer, team 525 conducted workshops for students to learn and receive more hands on experience within areas of interest.  Specifically, we organized four workshops.  In June, a CAD (Computer-Aided Design) workshop taught students how to use Creo.  In July, students participated in the tools and fabrication workshop to learn how to use the different machines used to help build the robot.  Also in July, an electrical and sensors workshop provided the opportunity to learn how to wire a robot and learn how the different sensors work.  Finally, in late July and early August through the programming workshop, students learned how to program using C++.

After a summer full of fun and learning, 525 team members are looking forward to applying their new skills during the upcoming school year.