It has been a very exciting summer, packed with FIRST! Here's what some FIRST Ladies teams have been doing this summer:
The Duluth East Daredevils held the 2nd annual Gitchi Gummi Get Together earlier in August. The winning alliance was F.R.E.D.: Team 2883; KnightKrawler: Team 2052; and King TeC: Team 2169. It was a fun filled day with teams around Minnesota. If you are interested in attending next year, keep an eye on their website for announcements about next years event!
FTC Team Polar Vortex recently demoed their robot with other teams at the Minnesota State Fair. There were people of all ages who stopped by to learn about FIRST, and they even got to drive some FTC robots! FLL Team Caught in a Brainstorm also demoed their robot along with several other FLL teams in Minnesota.
FRC Team Panteras has been doing as many demos as possible within their community! They also did a TEDx Talk in Mexico City to spread the word of FIRST even more!
Tell us about all the exciting stuff that your team has been doing this summer - tweet us at @ladiesinfirst or post on our Facebook page!
FIRST Ladies will be starting a new type of blog called the Interview Series! The first interview will be published next week, starting with Coraline Ada Ehmke. If you think you would make a good interview for FIRST Ladies, or know someone who would be, send an email to email@example.com.
New t-shirts! Keep an eye out for a new way to buy FIRST Ladies shirt or hoodie, and you don't have to wait to get your order! It will ship within a few days. There will be an email sent out within a couple weeks.
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Hi. This is Sunbin Kim of FTC 8338 Team Shatterdome from South Korea.
As I was thinking of mentoring others, I wondered whether Shatterdome is considered as a mentor team or a mentee team. Frankly, as a 2-year-old toddler team, we still consider ourself a mentee team to all the more experienced teams who have helped us so much throughout our journey. They helped us prepare for the competition, arrange schedules in St.Louis –where the World Championships was held–, and some even offered us a tour. I concluded that the people who are involved in FIRST by any aspects are what makes FIRST special, and that all deserve to be called mentors.
After our experiences and memories in the 2014 World Championships, Shatterdome has decided that we should give back what we have learned and received to the teams who need our help. We started from our local community by contacting the existing Korean teams. However, we figured that most of the teams does not last more than a multiple years because it is really hard to sustain a robotics team here. FTC Korea is still very small, and still very new so a lot of companies are unwilling to help us. As the head of the documentation division, I have contacted numerous representatives and workers in Korea and the States. The main difference was that Korean companies rejected our offer because we are a team consisted of only high school students without an adult coach. Our school was unwilling because we are just one of the startup clubs that the school had to fund. The only way we could get sponsors was to visit them ourselves and show them that we have a potential to grow and that our team can sustain ourself only if we have more sponsors. We did presentations and sent e-mails to a lot of companies even though we knew that the possibility of getting sponsorship was very low.
Through our experiences, we learned that it is more than POSSIBLE to run a robotics team in Korea, and we wanted to tell this fact to all the Korean robotics teams and all the other teams who might be going through similar hardships. In order to decrease their hardships, we made a forum to facilitate communication and translated all the FTC and FLL manuals in Korean–used as official Korean manuals by FEST– to help them. However, we felt like this wasn’t enough. Team Shatterdome luckily had numerous mentor teams located in the states who were willing to help us, but language barriers stopped other Korean teams from communicating with US teams. So we publish an article about other teams by interviewing them who have experience and has specialty that they can share with the Korean teams. These teams have become a guideline and an example for other Korean teams to follow.
I think being a mentor means not just to provide the mentees what they need, but to give them indirect help so that they could grow on their own and thrive even when the mentor is not present. That is what Shatterdome has been trying to do so far. Now as a partner of Mentor Without Borders, Shatterdome is trying to take a bigger step by reaching out our hand to all the teams in Asia and listen to their needs.
Like the Judge’s Award we recently received from 2015 World Championships, we are trying to “make it loud” within a bigger community. The cooperative atmosphere and the love that exists among participants are why I am so involved in FIRST and why I will stay in FIRST even after I graduate. Team Shatterdome will keep on mentoring other teams and spread this amazing opportunity to more people.
If you are interested in blogging for FIRST Ladies, sign up on the schedule. Think you've seen this blog before? It was also featured on Mentors Without Borders - click here to see their blog.
One of the hallmarks of FIRST teams is that they never let any obstacles come between the students and their dream. The Outliers, a [first] LEGO League team in Austin, TX, have been hard at work charting their own destiny with the support of Homeaway and their community. The team is made up of young ladies ranging in age from 10 to 12. The all-girls team was started when the elementary boys wanted the girls to separate into a different team, saying the girls asked “too many questions.” Well, any FIRST coach knows there is no such thing! The girls’ questions led them to make sure they fully understood the entire project before starting down any particular path and the team insisted on every girl being happy with every decision. The girls have been competing together since 2013 where they started together in elementary school and after a year of being split into two schools, they are excited to be back together in middle school for the 2015-2016 season. Elyssa, Caitlyn, Michelle, Bella, Kim, and Mantra had a lot to share about their experience with robotics and FLL.
FLL has always been about more than robots. Every girl in the Outliers especially loved learning to work on a team. Elyssa said that one of her favorite parts of the season was not only the Core Values practice, but “getting the parents to do them and having them see how hard they really are!” They are also learning how to communicate well, with Elyssa saying that her presentation skills at school have been great since participating in FLL. Of course, their building and programming skills have developed as well. Bella told us about the challenge of creating different attachments for every obstacle on the board and writing the program for each one. Through trial and error, they got the robot where it needed to be.
The girls have performed very well so far as a result of their sense of teamwork and their programming know-how, placing 3rd in their first year of competition. The experience has helped some of the girls realize the possibilities in their futures. Several of the girls, after not thinking they wanted to go into STEM fields, earned a place in their middle school’s STEM honors program, Gateway to Technology, for this coming school year. Now, they are getting the chance to apply concepts from their math and science courses to real world problems, just like in FLL. Michelle even says she wants to be an engineer or doctor when she grows up so she can continue collaborative problem solving.
The team has experienced a few challenges and they have risen to them admirably. In particular, they had a serious challenge with funding when the team was split between two schools. Neither PTA could support a team that was based in different schools and the team would not have been able to stay together and compete without a sponsor. And so, an innovative fundraising idea was born thanks to the parents and role models that support this team. HomeAway, a global company headquartered in Austin, has adopted the Outliers and now hosts an employee poker tournament complete with robot demonstration, the proceeds of which support the team. Thanks to this event, the girls are able to continue competing and are learning so much about how to realize their dreams with the support of their community. The Homeaway staff got an education, too. The staff was amazed by what the girls had accomplished and the room was filled with comments like “Whoa, how did the robot do that?” and “How old are the girls that programmed this robot?” Homeaway employees are showing their support outside of funding as well, and hope to be mentors to the Outliers this upcoming season.
Thanks to Homeaway’s encouragement and fundraising and the team’s determination, they are all-in for the 2015-16 season. As Michelle said, “I’m excited to win and work with a new mat and new obstacles. I can’t wait to see what new challenge we’ll face.” We’re excited, too, to see what innovative solutions they come up with this time.
It was a great opportunity for FIRST in Texas to spend time with teams like this one. We are based in Austin and committed to increasing access to FIRST throughout our state through our grant program. We love to recognize teams for their amazing work, both on our website and in our media. Have a great story to share? We’d love to hear it!
This blog was written by Gina Watts of FIRST in Texas. If you would like to blog for FIRST Ladies, click here to sign up on the schedule.
It's the time of the year when some of us have returned to the everyday school life. Others are enjoying the summer months, counting the days until the early wake-up begins. Along with new notebooks and new teachers, FIRST programs have begun. Only a few days remain until the FLL season begins and the new competition mats are creating a buzz. The FTC kickoff is next month. The speculation about bumpers returning for the FRC game in 2016 is rampant.
With the new school year and new FIRST challenges, many of us are working to recruit new members to our FIRST teams. Here are some things to think about for recruiting:
Emphasize the team’s training programs. Students may think they need experience to be successful on a FIRST team. The FIRST community is good at sharing our collective experience and wisdom. The game is new each year and we will teach you everything you need to know.
Talk to all types of people. Some of the best robot builders are also in the arts and athletics programs. Put together a short 5 minute presentation about the team and benefits of participation. Give the presentation at the beginning of every freshman science or math class. If possible, have current team members deliver the presentation in person.
Show off the robot. Most schools have some type of club recruitment fair at the beginning of the school year. Work with the school to bring the robot to the recruitment fair. Find a space to show off the robot, inviting all potential members to drive or operate. Have a team application ready or gather information from potential new members, including email address, grade level and phone numbers.
Have a clear process on how to join the team. Does your team use an application process? Recruit team members by borrowing a page from athletic teams. Announce the time frame to join the team, a tryout or interview, and announce the roster of students. Create a team policy for those who wish to join the team later. This will help avoid students joining who just want to hang out or get out of class during competitions.
Money talks. Freshman and sophomores are usually dependent on parents for transportation. Engage the parents with the benefits of the program, including scholarships and career preparation. They may need motivation to pick up their student in the middle of a snowstorm in the dark of the night.
“Is this like Battlebots?” Be ready to answer questions like this. Yes, we have exciting competitions with robust robot interactions. The FTC and FRC competitions have head-to-head playoffs like many sports tournaments.
Information is important. At recruitment events, collect email addresses of interested students. Once the student has provided an email address, hand them a reminder. A business card or postcard size paper works well. Follow up and encourage them to apply. Nag if necessary.
Pictures are powerful. In recruitment posters and flyers, emphasize your message. Make sure images are clear, positive and inclusive. Consider subtle biases pictures may represent.
Good luck and we will see you at the competitions!
FRC Team 33 is currently recruiting for their 21st season. They scuff the floor wax and damage the ceiling tiles at recruitment events, but the school doesn't mind - too much.
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With the new FIRST Tech Challenge game coming out in just 42 days, there are lots of ideas flying around about what it might be. Click here to see the full Reddit thread where people from the FTC community have posted their ideas! A few of our favorites our below.
1. Water Game
We all know and love the joke behind the water game..but maybe this is the year! After all, FTC did post about the humidity on Mars.
Ever since game hints began, many of FTC's posts on social media have included circles or other round objects. Maybe this means there will be balls again, or that the game elements will include circles.
There have been two posts about buckets, including Woodie Flower's iconic Ice Bucket Challenge. Maybe it's a hint, but it could also be the red herring.
4. Human Player
At the 2015 FIRST Championship, a member of the Game Design Committee made a chalk drawing of a person next to a gear during the FTC Social. Adding a human player to the game would definitely be a twist!
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