This tour provided a great opportunity to see how the principles and processes we use when building our robot are implemented in the industry. Recently we started learning about 3D printers and CAD so when we saw the SLA machines, it was really exciting to make the connection. Like our team, they had prototyping phases, build/design teams, and testing facilities. A notable difference however, was the emphasis they placed on testing. They tested for every scenario and every different situation, and in some cases built custom test rigs. In the next season, we should definitely incorporate a more comprehensive testing program for our robot.
We had the opportunity to talk to Stanley Black and Decker engineers about the mechanics and software of our robot and they gave us advice on how to improve. We took away some key points from this occasion. Two SBD employees were interested in potentially working with our team next season so we should follow up with them to see if they would be interested in coming to design reviews. We also talked to TechFire about how mechanisms operate on a larger scale in FRC. For example, their sweeper was a series of belts for speed and efficiency compared to the surgical tubing we use on our robot. And, the coach of TechFire, who also coaches an FTC team let us know about a workshop their team was hosting on August 19th for FTC teams and invited us to come. If we can get our summer drivetrain projects finished by then, we could display them at the event.
This meeting was a good start. We received commitments from 5 of the 8 interested kids. They were ready to start a team at the conclusion of the session, which was exciting. The coach of the LEGO Bots will work with us to coach the new team. There were two parents who had older children going into fifth grade, and they asked us to send them information about FIRST LEGO League. We need to send them invitations to the FLL Information Session that our team is hosting on June 10th. One of the students who didn’t provide a firm commitment lives in Germantown and is looking for a team in his area. We know a former FIRST LEGO League Junior coach, Toshi Saxena, who had a team in the 2016-17 season, but she is moving to FLL. We should contact her to see if she knows of any people who are interested in starting a FLL Jr. team.
Our team met with MCPS staff Dr. Erick Lang and Dr. Scott Murphy. This meeting was a proposal to MCPS regarding a plan we had thought out. This plan was to implement the FLL Jr. program into a 6 week period of the MCPS 2nd grade curriculum. We prepared a presentation the highlighted the outreach that our team completes and how the FLL Jr. curriculum ties in with 2nd grade proficiency statements and the simple machines unit. Right now in schools all over the world, robotics education is very overlooked. But, soon, robotics will be dominating the job market. So as the world advances, schools need to as well. So implementing FLL Jr. into the 2nd grade curriculum is a great first step. A problem with just forming clubs is that for impoverished children, families don't have the time or resources to send their children to these classes/clubs. So, having it during school gives these children an opportunity. Dr Lang and Murphy were very interested and impressed with our proposal and thought that it was a great idea. Hopefully, this meeting forms a strong bond between our team and MCPS and has a end result of all MCPS elementary schools having a 2nd grade FLL Jr. program.
Interested parents and students from the Stonemill ES Science Fair came to one of our team member's house. Two members of our team gave a brief presentation on FLL Jr. and a coach from the FLL Jr. team, the Lego Bots gave a description of what being a coach meant, and her experiences during the last season. The event was successful, 5 of the 8 interested kids gave commitments to our team that they would pursue FLL Jr.
The PTA of Rock Creek Valley asked us to come to the school for their event. We took our outreach robot and our software bot. Not only were we able to captivate interest for FLL Jr. and FLL by getting contact info from 8 parents, but one parent was also interested in FTC or FRC. Parents and kids really thought the mecanum wheels were such a cool aspect of our robot and that it was really fun to drive.
At College Gardens, we took Gandalf, 2 FLL robots, and 1 FLL Jr. team with their season's model. During the event, we let children drive around the FLL robot, and shoot particles from Gandalf. We also connected with 3 PTA parents that were very interested in starting a FLL Jr. club at CGES after school. We also collected contact information from 13 parents.