Working together to generate excitement about STEM is an important part of the FIRST program. This philosophy was put into action at the FIRST Showcase held on February 2, 2013, at the Encinitas Public Library. FIRST LEGO League (FLL) Team Robolution partnered with FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) Team Buffalo Wings, FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) Teams Paradox and Shockwave, and FLL Team Legonerdo da Vinci to present a comprehensive look into the progression of FIRST programs. The community turned out in droves to observe robot demonstrations, interact with mentors at several science experiment stations, and learn about the opportunities available to students through FIRST programs in the fields of science, technology, engineering, art and math. It is always rewarding to help others, and from this event Robolution hopes that people took away a new sense of the power and possibilities of STEM (and a little bag of oobleck!)
On November 4, 2012, Robolution attended an FLL Qualifying Tournament at San Dieguito Academy. That morning the team was excited and, to be honest, a little nervous. After months of practice and preparation, this was the first time that Robolution would be presenting to real judges and competing against other teams. The day’s schedule included robot judging, project judging, Core Values judging, and three rounds of the robot game.
Our coach, mentors, families and friends were there to support us, but we knew that it was time for us to do this on our own and we felt ready. After each presentation, our confidence grew. The life skills we had been practicing, such as public speaking, problem solving and critical thinking, helped us do our best. The robot game was very exciting. Each round was two and a half minutes long, and that time flew by. With pompoms and placards, our teammates cheered us on.
After a morning of hard work, it was time to have fun. The emcees of the event told jokes, played great music, and everyone danced “Gangnam Style.” The big finale of the day was the awards ceremony. Teams won awards in the categories of robot design, research project, Core Values and robot game. To our great surprise, Robolution’s name was announced last as the winner of the Champion’s Award, presented to the team with the highest overall score. We went wild! It felt great that we worked together as a team to achieve our goals, and most of all, we had fun doing it.
An FLL season is full of exciting activities such as field trips, public speaking opportunities and community outreach events. The highlight of Robolution’s season was the LEGOLAND FLL Championship Tournament held on December 1, 2012. Similar to the format of the qualifying tournaments in that teams would be judged on robot design, research project, Core Values, and three rounds of the robot game, this time Robolution was scheduled to compete against 55 other teams.
The atmosphere at LEGOLAND was electric. Teams arrived early to set up their pits, then it was off to the judges. The rounds of the robot game were held up on a big stage, and we felt like rock stars. Although it was busy, the morning went smoothly because we were prepared and relaxed. At a lunchtime ceremony, teams that had won their qualifying tournaments were recognized, and at this time, callbacks were also announced. Robolution received callbacks in two out of three possible categories – research project and Core Values. We made a few minor adjustments to our strategy and presentations, and set off to present to yet another panel of judges.
With just a little time left in the afternoon, we managed to fit in some roller coasters at the park. It felt great to let loose on Project X Technic Test Track! As night fell, everyone gathered to find out the results of the day. What great news to hear that Robolution won the Research Award for their project solution. There were so many fantastic teams with lots of spirit and truly innovative solutions. Meeting kids from all over southern California who are also interested in FIRST and STEM was amazing, and Robolution was proud to be part of that inspiring event.
One of the best parts about the FIRST program is that it emphasizes and encourages sharing information. Robolution has participated in many outreach events, and the team always learns as much as it shares. On January 10, 2013, Robolution attended a Young Leaders in Healthcare meeting at Scripps Memorial Hospital in Encinitas. The Young Leaders in Healthcare program is designed to provide a forum for high school students to learn about the Health Care System and its breadth of career opportunities, teach leadership skills, provide a service project to make a positive impact on the community, and provide a venue for a student-run competition.
Robolution listened to a presentation on diabetes care and management given by Dr. Athena Philis-Tsmikas, Vice President of the Whittier Institute. It was interesting to learn about the prevalence of diabetes in America, and to see how a retinal scanner works. After that, Robolution presented a power point on the FIRST and FLL programs to a group of about 80 North County High school students. In smaller break-out sessions, Robolution interacted with the audience and demonstrated the robot game, oversaw a teamwork challenge, and explained the basics of dehydration.
Robolution described their project solution to Dr. Andrew Accardi, emergency room physician, Vice Chairperson of the Scripps Memorial Hospital Emergency Room, Scripps Memorial Hospital Encinitas Director of Education and the Director of the Young Leaders in Healthcare Education Program. Dr. Accardi was very receptive to the idea, and provided valuable feedback to the team. Overall, this was an excellent opportunity for Robolution to take part in and contribute to the larger STEM community.
SHARING OUR PROJECT WITH SENIORS
In addition to sharing our project with the experts we consulted and the local community at outreach events, we shared our project with many active seniors, including a senior focus group who met for the first time, our grandparents, our Senior Partner and the seniors at a local assisted living facility. We also shared our project with the caregivers at that facility and conducted surveys in which both active seniors and assisted living facility caregivers completed. Everyone provided great feedback and helped us in developing our “Senior Solution.” In our sharing, we discussed the importance of keeping hydrated as well.
SENIOR FOCUS GROUP
OUR SENIOR PARTNER
Our Senior Partner identified the problem of dehydration by telling us how her husband is constantly being reminded to drink because he feels he does not get thirsty.
Our Senior Partner told us that he did not drink water while working on their roof on a summer day in their town, which is located in a very hot area. Her husband did not feel thirsty despite the hot weather. After he came into the house, he passed out and vomited. He was rushed to the emergency room and was later diagnosed with severe dehydration.
When we were trying to identify senior-related problems by visiting a doctor at a local clinic, he told us that dehydration is really a concern for seniors because they lose or have a lower sense of thirst as they get older so they become dehydrated.
After field trips, extensive research, and talking with seniors, we came up with our solution to this important problem. Then we shared our solution idea with various seniors in addition to the experts we consulted.
On Nov. 29, 2012, we visited Pac Rim Elementary to talk with the LEGO robotics club, which has two dozen students. The school had a LEGO robotics club for two years but has not participated in FLL. By demonstrating Rocky to complete missions in the Senior Solutions game and talking about all the great things about being in FLL, we hoped to inspire the club to start a new team or two. The students had great questions and they were so gracious for listening to us. They were also very thankful for the team wristbands we passed out.
On November 28, 2012, our team helped set up the Apple FLL Showcase for four other FLL teams. Instead of showcasing our work, we instead mentored the other teams by overseeing some of the stations like the Robot Taskbot and Robot Game stations.
There were four stations. Station 1 was the Robot Design and Taskbot Station. Teams had the chance to talk about their robot design or demonstrate basic programming challenges and discuss sensors with pre-programmed Taskbots. We taught the other FLL students how to operate Taskbots and concepts in programming and sensors. They in turn would teach spectators at the event. Station 2 was the Project Station, where teams got to talk about their project. Station 3 was the Core Values Station, where the teams talked about their Core Values Poster. We asked students some possible Core Values questions to help them prepare for the tournament. Station 4 was the Robot Game, where teams demonstrated their competition robot for the Senior Solutions game. We timed the teams to help them take turns demonstrating their robot and reset the field each time. We also cheered the teams on as they operated their robot during 2.5 min rounds.
Our mentors from the high school team, Buffalo Wings, were also there to help lead the event. Everyone was so nice and we all agreed that it was so much fun and a terrific collaborative experience!