Articles by tag: motivate

Articles by tag: motivate

    YouthSpark with Microsoft

    YouthSpark with Microsoft By Caitlin, Jayesh, Ethan, Evan, Charlotte, Omar, Max, Tycho, Austin, Darshan, and Janavi

    Task: Mobile Tech XPerience's appearance at the Meyerson

    The Meyerson Symphony Center hosted a Microsoft YouthSpark event this Saturday with activities from robotics to VR to 3D printing. We set up the sumo laptops up in the atrium and the 3D in the MXP outside, right next to the Perot tech van. The tech van had most of their setup outside with a smaller piece inside, and we worked pretty well in tandem. (I have it on high authority from a random girl that walked in that ours was cooler)

    Reflections

    The groups of kids coming by were spread out so we couldn't teach a group of 8 all at once like in previous experiences. Thankfully we had BigThought volunteers helping out. We couldn't have done it without the 5 of them. We ran through the presentation for them at the beginning, as we still thought that's what the plan was going to be, so they knew how to teach it after a few more pointers. Out of necessity it was basically one-on-one teaching, but that meant many of the kids got much more into it than they would have in a larger group. I had one mom comment that this was the most focused she had ever seen her daughter, and a couple of boys tweaked their program so much they ended up winning against everyone except each other. This event definitely got a lot of kids really excited about robotics, and we're hoping they'll look into a team or a club at their schools.

    Keychain modeling went smoothly, and we ended up getting all the models printed or printing before leaving, and most given to a parent or kid at the event. We got addresses for the leftover few and are planning on sending them off within a day or two. A group of friends worked on a collaberative house, one doing the rooms, one the design, one the roof. It turned into a massive house when they had to leave, and we made sure to tell the kids and the parents where to find SketchUp if they looked interested. We had a huge number of kids throughout the day and it was a great event and great group of volunteers to teach with.

    Discover Summer Resource Fair

    Discover Summer Resource Fair By Ethan, Evan, Max, Tycho, and Charlotte

    Task: Present to kids at the Discover Summer Resource Fair

    Today, we brought the MXP to the DISD Discover Summer Resource Fair. We talked to about 250 people, including the Mayor of Dallas. We helped about 50 people create and print keychains using Google Sketchup. In the front of the RV, we introduced about 200 people to Lego Robotics, and assisted them in creating sumo bots.

    The goal of this event was to inspire kids to go into STEM programs, and I believe it was a success. Several kids came up to us and asked us questions about camps, as well as how to get into STEM activities. As well, we increased visibility of the Dallas City of Learning group.

    Reflections

    These events are very good for increasing FIRST and STEM exposure in local communities, and we will continue doing them in the future. As well, we need to work on accommodating more people in a limited space.

    Turn Up! 2017 at Frontiers of Flight

    Turn Up! 2017 at Frontiers of Flight By Janavi, Jayesh, Caitlin, Tycho, Omar, Evan, Charlotte, Ethan, and Darshan

    Task:

    Each year the Frontiers of Flight Museum hosts the Turn Up!, an event that contains STEM exhibits and demonstration to teach kids about the wonders of Science and Math. We brought the Mobile XPerience (MXP) complete with laptops, 3D printers, and LEGO SumoBot to help teach. Outside the RV we had laptops set up where we taught kids how to code EV3 sumo bots and battle them , we also taught kids how to create their own key chains on SketchUp and 3-D print them. Inside the RV we had more SketchUp latops set up as well as the educational Minecraft servers where the kids could learn how to build structures. As well, we demonstrated our FTC competition robot and Argos by driving them around the museum we got younger kids excited about robotics by giving them balls and letting them "feed" the robot.

    Reflections

    Going to event like the Dallas Love Field turn up allows us to introduce kids to the wonders of STEM and robotics and help prepare them for their futures from an early age. Helping introduce our community to STEM career is a really integral part of this team and we hope to inspire many more youths through programs like this.

    Moon Day at Frontier of Flight Museum

    Moon Day at Frontier of Flight Museum By Abhi, Charlotte, Austin, Janavi, and Tycho

    Task: Present at the MoonDay Event

    Today, Iron Reign was invited to the Frontier of Flight Museum by Dallas Love Field Airport for a day of STEM knowledge for its annual "Moon Day". It was time for us to bring in the LEGO robotics kit, 4 laptops for kids, ARGOS, and Juggernaut, our competition bot from this past season. Upon arrival at the museum, we noticed many other fascinating stations such as one explaining NASA's new rover and a model in the arena. We paired up with some other robotics members in the region to set up a station where we could help robotics beginners program the LEGO bots so that the bots could wrestle eachother like Sumo wrestlers. In addition, we fixed ARGOS so that the color sensor would be able to sense a stick in front of it to follow the sign. This allowed us to let other students drive the bot. The same was done with Juggernaut.

    Our LEGO station was set up in a way such that even people who couldn't type could use it. We helped people code a bot that drives forward till the bot reached the edge of the board, turns backwards, rotates, and then repeats these reactions until the program is terminated. The students learned that the robot was able to determine when it reached the edge of the board by using the color sensor located on the bottom of the robot. Since the board is built in a dartboard sort of manner with the majority being black and a white ring around the edge, the robot was taught by the students to only stay on the black and not continue if the sensor is on the white. The students had the ability to individually change the speeds of their bots so that when the compete with one another in the "Sumo" game, there could be a winner.

    We decided to use ARGOS and Juggernaut as play bots for the day and drove both around. While doing so, we discovered that ARGOS had a bug which, though controllable, was inconvenient. ARGOS' movement system was developed in a way such that the acceleration would compound based on the number of seconds the joystick was pressed in a certain direction. Currently, ARGOS had to be coded this way since we didn't have encoders and power was the only way to put speed into the wheels. We are currently working on fixing this problem. Regardless, we were able to drive ARGOS around and let other children control it using the color sensor stick we developed. The stick was developed in a way that the bot would shine a light onto the area in front of it and if it found the image we had for the color to detect, ARGOS knew to move. We programmed Juggernaut in a similar way so students were able to drive it as well. Since Juggernaut also had shooting abilities, we were able to play catch with numerous people in the area including booth sponsors. In this way, we were able to teach others about the shooting mechanism and carwash system developed to pick up balls in the bot. This fascinated many young people and inspired them to pursue a STEM activity.

    Numerous students from a wide array of backrounds came to Moon Day and we were able to spread the knowledge of robotics to them. We had many parents and educators ask us about ways to get involved and we gave them more information about FIRST and their message of Gracious Professionalism. Robotics gave us an avenue to connect with kids, regardless of their socioeconomic status, race, gender, or beliefs. This allowed us to make a deep impact on people and join forces with them to pursue something we are all passionate about. In a world filled with discrimination against those of certain groups, the Frontier of Flight Museum gave us a chance to move people by the wonders of robotics and encourage them to pursue what they want in life without caring about the discriminators. We hope to continue to make an impact on people through future events.

    MXP at Conrad HS

    MXP at Conrad HS By Ethan, Evan, Karina, Tycho, Austin, Charlotte, and Kenna

    Sharing STEM opportinities with kids and their families at Conrad HS

    Today, we brought the Dallas City of Learning MXP to Conrad High School to support Dallas ISD's parent outreach fair call PrepU Super Saturday. The focus for this Super Saturday was making parents aware of extracurricular activities available to their students in DISD. So this was a perfect event to let parents know about the robotics programs available in Dallas ISD, including Jr. FLL, FLL, FRC and FTC. The DallasISD STEM Departments was also there and since they are responsible for curating the robotics programs across the school district, we sent parents who wanted to know more over to them.

    Activities

    Up in the front, we started a MinecraftEDU server and had 3 computers decicated to playing it for younger kids. On the other side, we had set up computers to program EV3s for sumobots. In the back, we ran Google Sketchup on the computers to teach kids how to make keychains and other trinkets using 3D modelling and printing. Our back setup includes 4 FlashForge 3D printers, donated to us by Best Buy.

    Today we presented to somewhere around 420-450 people. The MXP was ridiculously crowded at some points, up to 25 people aboard the MXP at some points. We handed out flyers about FIRST to people who visited the table next to our MXP as well, with some significant interest. About 50 keychains were completed and printed - the photo above is Austin holding our printing backlog. Almost all of them were picked up, but we weren't able to print the last 10 or so designs.

    Today was a very successful day for the MXP, and we'll break our record of people talked to easily if we keep this up. We have future deployments planned soon including another Super Saturday next weekend.

    MXP Event at LV Stockard Middle School

    MXP Event at LV Stockard Middle School By Charlotte, Kenna, Tycho, and Austin

    STEM education for children and their parents at a DISD event

    Earlier this morning, we drove the Mobile Tech Experience RV to LV Stockard Middle School and participated in a DISD event. We served around 250 kids, ages ranging from preschool to middle school. The morning started off slow, but as the day went on, the MXP became more and more crowded. Our spot was near the food and snack area, so lots of families came through after getting breakfast or lunch. We had a sumo field set up outside the vehicle and many people would stop to watch the robots fight, who we would then invite onto the vehicle and teach them how to program these robots themselves.

    Like our previous event at Conrad High School, this DISD event was purposed to help kids discover activities that they may enjoy and want to do as an extracurricular. This was a great opportunity to spark interest in STEM in these kids and we answered any questions about who our team is and how they can join or start a robotics team at their school.  The kids rushed in in groups and were very excited to get started with the activities that we provide. A highlight of this specific event was a group of young folklorico dancers who came to learn 3D modeling, as seen above. When a group such as that comes in, it both forces and allows us to practice our teaching skills. Instead of teaching individually, we show the kids how to 3D design step-by-step on a large tv screen donated to us by Big Thought.

    This rush of people happens at a lot of events that we cater, and these rushes can get very chaotic, but as a team we agree that it is this chaos that is the most fulfilling once the event ends. Being able to teach these kids and see their faces once they have accomplished something using the knowledge that they just acquired is the most gratifying part of serving on the Mobile Tech Experience.

    DISD Coaches' Training

    DISD Coaches' Training By Ethan, Abhi, Kenna, and Tycho

    Task: Present at the DISD Coaches' Training

    On Monday, we went to the DISD Coaches' Meeting in order to present our robot to the FIRST DISD coordinator and other coaches in the district. This presentation was one of the reasons we got our robot working so quickly. During the presentation our coach talked with other coaches and the coordinator about funding and tounaments, while we presented in the back and demonstrated our robot and the REV expansion hubs. We also answered questions about coding and design.

    Reflections

    These presentations are extremely helpful to get our team's name out in the North Texas community, as well as secure funding for our team. They also assist our team in that we can exchange design ideas with coaches at events like these.

    MXP at UTA

    MXP at UTA By Kenna, Abhi, Austin, Charlotte, Ethan, and Janavi

    MXP at UTA

    Today, we brought the Dallas City of Learning MXP (Mobile Learning Lab) to 4H’s Youth Technology Explosion in coordination with the Black Society of Engineers. Our role in this event was to offer a hands on experience for those interested in a career in engineering. We usually have three different activities: MinecraftEDU, Sumo Robotics, and CAD Keychains. MinecraftEDU runs on three computers for younger kids while six computers run LEGO Mindstorms EV3. We use Mindstorms to help people code their own robot which, once coded, will battle other robots in a sumo ring.

    Unlike most events we attend, the participants were mostly high schoolers so there was a much greater interest in the 3D modeling software (as opposed to MinecraftEDU or sumo robotics). Only about 80 people came into the MXP but in very large groups at once so we switched from helping everyone individually to presenting on the TV. We walked them through designing their own keychain on SketchUp, then printed it using FlashForge 3D Printers donated to us by BestBuy. Helping people learn CAD gives us the unique opportunity to foster interest in a valuable skill on a program that anyone with internet has access to. The best part by far is giving people their printed keychains, as seen above.

    Travis High School Night

    Travis High School Night By Tycho, Charlotte, Ethan, and Karina

    Encourage students at Travis to enroll at our School of Science and Engineering (SEM)

    Today we went to Travis Middle School for their high school night where they have many high schools competing to enroll their graduating 8th graders. Travis is a Talented and Gifted school and about half of our team came from there. Mr. Newton was our lead presenter. He is a DISD teacher of the year and the head of our math department. He is the school’s killer math teacher and has done the high school night presentation at Travis for the last 3 years. Each year Iron Reign has been there to support him.

    It started with Mr. Newton giving his usual presentation on how strong of school SEM is, including how well it performs on the international stage. He talked about the culture of the school and about how students there manifest their love for science, math and engineering and we are always ready to support each other. He spoke about the college readiness program and how 100% of seniors last year are entering college and have been offered a total of $21 million worth of scholarships. And then he handed it over to us to describe the robotics program.

    We told them about how robotics unifies all the different subjects that they're learning at SEM. We described how it brings together fields like physics, engineering, computer science and calculus to make a real tangible product. We also showed how robotics exposes the students that participate in it to experiences that they would otherwise not have the ability to access if they were just regular students at SEM, such as connections with professional engineers and our intense local STEM outreach efforts. Charlotte shared how in just this last year we’ve been all around the country to participate in competitions and outreach events as far afield as Austin, Arkansas, Georgia and Florida. Karina helped demo the robots and showed some Travis students how to operate them, while Ethan helped highly interested students understand our robotics program in detail.

    Altogether we delivered our presentation to 3 different groups and spoke with roughly 120 students and family members. We know Mr. Newton convinced most families to look very seriously at applying to SEM.

    We have always said that if we make a connection that helps even a single student think of themselves in a STEM field, we’ve had a successful outreach program. We think we regularly have that kind of impact and more, but we are seldom told it straight out. Today we had two students tell us that our robotics demo directly convinced them declare SEM as their high school first choice. This was a good day for us, and a great day for our school.

    So, You Want to Build Your Own RV

    So, You Want to Build Your Own RV By Ethan

    How to build your own RV in 6 easy steps.

    1. Obtain the RV: To be affordable on price, opt for a 90s-2000s RV, preferably with as little miles as possible. If you can afford it, the newer the better, as we've run into mechanical problems over time with ours. Look for one with a slide-out on some site such as RVTrader or Craigslist.
    2. Deconstruct the RV: More likely than not, your RV will have amazing 90s beachwave decor. While this may be great to pick up surfer gals and guys on the beach, it probably won't make the best learning environment. So, tear it out! Remove the rug carpet and replace it with laminate flooring. Get rid of that pesky bed/bathroom. Remove the kitchem if you want! The goal is to get as much space as possible to fit as many kids in there as possible.
    3. Reconstruct the RV: You want the RV to be as kid-friendly as possible. Get rid of any sharp edges, install some workbenches so that kids can sit or work, protect the outlets, et cetera.
    4. Obtain funding for the RV: You need tech. While its possible for a team to self-finance, its much easier to apply for grants. You can go to companies such as Best Buy that are willing to give grants or donate technology for help. For example. our 4 3D printers were all supplied by Best Buy. For our RV, we have about 40 laptops to instruct kids with, as well as 3 large monitors to show.

    5. Create a curriculum: This will vary per team, but here's ours. In the front, we let kids program SumoBots using EV3. In the back, we teach them how to 3D model and help them 3D print keychains. We also run MinecraftEDU for the younger kids.
    6. Run events: Talk to educational organizations such as local schools and afterschool clubs to plan events. This also varies depending on location, but local school districts and clubs such as 4-H may be interested in hosting the RV for a day or so.

    Iron Reign and Substainability

    Iron Reign and Substainability By Ethan

    Iron Reign's Substainability

    Iron Reign has been a team for 8+ years now through multiple competitions. We started as a wee middle school FLL team at W.B. Travis, and we've grown exponentially since then. We've competed in MoonBots and FTC, represented our school at SuperRegionals, presented at the National Science Teachers' Association covention, and built our own RV in order to serve underpriveledged communities accross the Dallas Metroplex. But, after the current original team members are gone, we would like to continue our legacy.

    First, recruitment. When we recruit new members, we first take into consideration their prior robotics experience. While those with prior experience may have a better chance of being recruited, it is not the sole determinant. We also take into consideration their willingness to learn and interest in robotics. While robotics may indeed be a resume-booster. it should not be the reason that a person applies to a team. Finally. we take into consideration their dynamic with other people. There must be a balance between fun and productiveness on the team, and that must be kept in mind when recruiting.

    Second, transfer of knowledge. We recently had our first alumni graduate, and we had to ensure that all the knowledge that they knew were transfered to the younger people on the team. Most recently, we had to make sure that the newer people on the team knew how to 3D model so that we could contiue making parts. Myself, I started taking over some of the blog duties last year and now have become editor of the blog. Transferring these skills not only ensure the substainabilty of Iron Reign, they also give our members real world experience that they can use in college and job settings.

    Finally, we divy up labor so that no one has to do everything. While a person can choose to work on a different project than normal, everybody tends to have their own specialty that they work in, such as building, blogging, programming, 3D modelling, scouting, et cetera. Doing this ensures that new recruits can have a mentor to go to in order to learn about the skill they're interested in.

    DISD Scrimmage

    DISD Scrimmage By Charlotte, Janavi, Ethan, Evan, Tycho, Austin, Karina, Kenna, and Abhi

    Task: Run and compete at the DISD Scrimmage

    Today we helped run and participated in a scrimmage at the Davis Ellis Field House. Iron Reign will be hosting a qualifier in December at Townview, our home school. This scrimmage served as a practice for the preparation and execution of an FTC event. We were able to learn the best way to assemble the field, run the scoring and game software, and properly announce rounds and other information teams may need. As we should, we set up an inspection table where members of our team used the FTC approved inspection checklist to properly assess the robots of other teams along with our own robot. This is a skill that we will need to use when performing inspections during our qualifier. Additionally, we had to figure the software required to run the audio behind matches and fill in the scoring data, and having done this now will save us a lot of time during the qualifier that we are going to host.

    We also learned how important it is to create an itinerary for your team and try to keep everyone moving at the needed pace. During this scrimmage we were only able to complete 8 out of 12 matches due to this being some teams first match ever and some issues with teams not arriving, or not having been registered beforehand. But this provided us with a great experience and lots of information, we will take all of the things we learned after helping run this scrimmage and apply it to the qualifier we are hosting in December.

    This scrimmage was our second of the season, and while part of the team was focused on announcing, scoring, and field setup, the others worked on improving the robot and pinpointing key issues to solve before our first qualifier this Saturday the 11th at Greenhill. Also, the drive team got the necessary practice for skills that they need for upcoming competitions, like setting up WiFi direct connections between our phones and recognizing when batteries had low or sufficient voltages, skills that don’t seem very difficult but are very important for those working hands-on the robot during competitions. Also, with the removal of the “wiggle test” this year, we have to adapt and become very prepared before each match so that we can make the smooth transition that is required from autonomous period to tele-op. Although we have spent a lot of time doing drive practice on the field that we were gifted, driving under pressure in a competitive environment with other teams in our district is when we are able to decipher the most prominent problems with our robot. An example of this is our autonomous program: running it seems like second nature when we are practicing alone, but when we are with other teams there are more factors to consider, like whether our autonomous program is compatible with theirs, etc. Scrimmages are a perfect opportunity to figure out what issues we have and how to solve them, and this time we were also able to get the practice we so needed running an FTC qualifier.

    Qualifier Preparation

    Qualifier Preparation By Kenna, Abhi, Karina, Charlotte, Tycho, Janavi, Ethan, Austin, and Jayesh

    Townview Prep Pic

    We have been preparing to host our own qualifier since November when we hosted a DISD Scrimmage. Now we have to prepare our school for 26 teams to compete tomorrow. Most of our team was there to help construct the fields. The highlight of my Friday night was dragging assorted metal chairs across the cafeteria, only to be told we only wanted to use the black chairs and spending 2x longer than needed to make our audience seating. However, we were lucky enough get lots of help from our friends in DISD, Townview, and FTC Team 7172, which eased my chair-sorting pain. Our team has made several fields together and should have been more efficient in communicating and managing our time. But that is something to learn and improve on next time. In the end, however, it went smoothly because there was lots of teamwork between 6832 and Townview volunteers once everyone had time to figure out how to best assemble the field.

    The main point we'd like to drive home is that you *really* have to consider logistics when setting up a tournament. While you'll consider all the big things before the final day, such as making maps, printing flyers, and placing fields; some of the smaller items can be ignored. A prime example is that we put off figuring out the judging room locations and had to figure that out; another example that we forgot to do is have a pit organization. It would have majorly helped had we organized the pit by team number or some other order for queueing, or at least had made a map of teams beforehand.

    Townview Qualifier 2017

    Townview Qualifier 2017 By Kenna, Abhi, Ethan, Austin, Evan, Charlotte, Karina, Tycho, Janavi, and Jayesh

    This past weekend, Iron Reign hosted a 28-team qualifier at Townview Magnet Center. Many of us attend the School of Science and Engineering insided Townview, so it was familiar territory and made the whole experience a little easier. We were lucky enough to host a Scrimmage as practice for our actual qualifier. Weeks of preparation and anticipation paid off when the FTC Affiliate Partner for North Texas told us it was "the best run qualifier this season," and the North Texas Judge Advisor, Freidrich Elliot, called it the "best judging panel he's ever seen."
    Unlike most posts in our blog, this post's purpose is not to give a play-by-play. You can take a look at how the day went on our instagram. We want to use our experience as an opportunity to help out other teams who may be hosting a qualifier.

    • It is very important to manage your volunteers. We had volunteer coordinators for every task, like a match queueing coordinator or inspection coordinator.
    • Our PTSA was kind enough to donate food as a fundraiser. However, a lot of it was left over and wasted because it was perishable. Our recommendation is be careful in the amount of perishable food you make.
    • Make a playlist using FIRST-approved songs ahead of time or use the one we used. Thanks to Roaheen Neil Mansuri on Spotify!
    • Take notice of which teams queue on their own, which teams need lots of reminding, and other general manners. You and your volunteers may be asked by the judges, as we were, which teams were the best to work with.
    • This may seem obvious to some, but if you cannot find a team, they are likely at the practice field.
    • If possible, build two fields (in addition to the practice field). It helps immensely with time management and is part of the reason our qualifier went so well.
    • Competing in a qualifier, much less running one, makes everyone a little high-strung. The most important tip we can give is to be understanding of everyone there. We all understand how much FTC means to many and it can cause some to be less considerate than normal. People standing in others' way or not queueing is not helpful, but it is nothing to lose temper over. Try to give people some kindness in a stressful day, whether you're participating or facilitating.
    • Closely related to the last point, be sure to thank people. Tell your volunteers and teams that you appreciate them being there!
    On the subject of appreciation, we'd like to thank a few people for helping out.
    A big thank you to Karina for volunteering even though she was sick. We had so much help from Townview parents and students that made this qualifier successful. The entire event would not have been successful without the support and sponsorship of DISD.

    DISD STEM Expo Preparation

    DISD STEM Expo Preparation By Charlotte

    Task: Prepare for DISD STEM Expo

    Next Saturday, Iron Reign will be participating in the DISD STEM Expo for our second year. As we did last year, we are bringing our Mobile Learning Experience to the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center and will serve children in our community to spark an interest in STEM fields and learning. Dallas City of Learning, the non-profit that schedules the Mobile Learning Experience, runs a featured exhibit in the expo, so we expect lots of traffic to our vehicle. Additionally, we have partnered with Best Buy, who is providing 12 volunteers including store employees and geek squad members to work with us on the vehicle. This will be immensely helpful as these extra sets of hands will allow for more kids to be served.

    For our presentation, we are going to have the usual two components, sumo robots and 3D printed keychains. We will teach the kids how to program our pre-built Lego sumo robots in Lego Mindstorms, the same program used in FLL. This is usually our best opportunity to promote First and tell families of kids who enjoyed working with the robots how they can start a team or join an existing one. Also, on our vehicle we have four functional 3D printers and plenty of laptops with Google SketchUp pre-installed, and with these we teach kids how to design and print their very own keychain with their names on it or anything else they would like. Because of our extra volunteers and the size of the event, we expect to have lots of kids coming through our vehicle and participating in these activities.

    How to Make a Robotics Team in 7 Easy Steps!

    How to Make a Robotics Team in 7 Easy Steps! By Janavi

    Task:

    So you want to make a robotics team? No fear! We'll show you how to in 7 easy steps!

    Step 1: Find Support Resources
    First(get it), familiarize yourself with the FIRST Robotics Competition. Then locate your region’s Regional Director or FIRST Senior Mentor. These people know the FIRST teams, participating schools, and FIRST-friendly businesses in your area. He or she can help you form a plan for getting your team funded, organized, and in touch with other teams in the area.

    Step 2: Enlist Coaches & Mentors
    Each team needs at least one adult Mentor with technical expertise that is willing and motivated to “coach” the team through the build and competition season (and beyond). Also highly recommended are two or more other adults to help with administration, fundraising, community outreach, and other tasks.

    Step 3: Register and Pay
    You can register and create your team on FIRST's website. All coaches and members should create their own FIRST account, register to your team, and sign their consent & release form. They estimate cost per season for rookie teams to be around $2,250, including robot kit, event registraton, travel fees, and more. Registration fees themselves, however, are $275.

    Step 4: Build your team
    Find and invite at least 10 students who want to be part of a robotics team (the easiest part!). Be sure to emphasize that no technical skills are required, just enthusiasm and a willingness to learn. Recruit all kinds of talents, not just engineering and electronics.

    Step 5: Raise funds
    Your team will need a steady supply of funds. Recruit local businesses to sponsor you. Many of them may already have a relationship with FIRST. Grants are available for both rookie and underserved teams.

    Step 6: Learn about safety
    At FIRST, student safety is always paramount. Every adult must become familiar with the Youth Protection Program (YPP). Take the time to watch the videos and read the materials. OSHA also has a 10-hour safety certification that can be completed online.

    Step 7: Time to Build Robots!
    Part of the fun is designing and building your robot; FIRST provides a wealth of information in their Resource Library to help you. Find everything from technical guides to fundraising ideas to fun activities for your team.

    Reflections

    Often when we participate in outreach events with the Mobile Tech Lab, we get questions from students and parents alike about how to start their own robotics team in their community, school, etc. It is hard to try and explain the steps as well as direct them to the FTC website in memorable way. So, we created this easy-to-read checklist to hand out while at outreach events. We're so exited to be able to get other kids just like us involved in Robotics. Robotics has changed all of our lives for the better, without robotics many of us wouldn't have gotten to experience working with technology let alone at the level that we are now.

    Helping Other Teams

    Helping Other Teams By Austin and Tycho

    Task: Help a rookie FTC team

    In the week before the Wylie east north Texas qualifier, Iron Reign was going about our normal development schedule when we received a request for assistance from a smaller startup team, team 13376 Cyber Wolves, that had jettisoned from an FRC team to compete in FTC. On one of our regularly scheduled nights, which actually ended up being the night before competition day, they arrived at Iron Reign’s headquarters with all of their gear and teammates in one car. They had brought two smaller robots with simple degrees of freedom and no code. The coaches also had numerous questions about how the competition would ebb and flow.

    Tycho diverted from his normal autonomous coding to assist the teams coders in polishing up their control scheme and the robot was worked on by their builders, who asked for assistance and general information from our build team that was keeping to its rhythm. While their lack of resources led to a lackluster performance at the actual qualifier, they shone through and were excited to build their reserves and team for next year's competition. We were ecstatic to help an up and coming team when we got the chance, and would offer the same kind of support to any team that comes knocking.

    You can contact us at ironreignrobotics@gmail.com!

    DISD STEM Fair

    DISD STEM Fair By Kenna, Tycho, Evan, Ethan, Charlotte, Karina, Abhi, Janavi, and Austin


    DISD STEM Fair was one of our busiest events, but it was also one of our least chaotic. Our team has trouble turning anyone away because we want to introduce as many people as possible to STEM, but letting everyone onto the MXP usually results in more stress and less efficiency because it becomes so crowded. This time we implemented some of the improvements we had been discussing for the past few weeks like a keychain waiting list and regulating entrance to the MXP. We were able to reach 400 students with our three activities and spoke to over 1500 parents and students. We had the opportunity to set up a field and demo our competition bot for everyone there, including some FLL and FTC teams, which is something we don't usually get to do. A lot of kids actually got to drive the robot, as seen below.


    We offer two activities on the Mobile Learning Experience(MXP):3D Modeling & Printing and EV3 Lego Bots.



    Using laptops, presentation monitors, and 3D printers donated to us by Best Buy, we teach students how to design and print their own keychain. We use SketchUp, a free 3D modeling program by Google, because our hope is that if we teach people the basics they can go home and use SketchUp themselves. They learn the basic functions of CAD, such as the push/pull tool, shape tool, and 3D text. We had lots of people express interest in SketchUp for their kids or students. The highlight of my day was seeing kids who had been taught SketchUp helping those who were still building their keychain.




    With our EV3 kits, we help everyone code their own robot and battle it against other bots. Most of the time, it's someone's first interaction with code so what they are coding is fairly basic. The simple code gives them a real taste of programming in a way they can understand.

    Among our sponsors that make our outreach possible is BigThought. They help us with the costs of maintaining the MXP as well as staffing. What we do would not be possible without them. During this event, the CEO of BigThought was able to tour the MXP and see what we do to further interest and ability in STEM for young students.

    OK Regional Keychains

    OK Regional Keychains By Kenna, Ethan, Charlotte, Austin, and Evan

    Task:

    We came to the Oklahoma Regional woefully unprepared for the amount of stuff other teams would give out. As soon as we arrived, we received every trinket imaginable. There were keychains, pins, 3D-printed symbols, business cards, patches, and tons of other creative designs. Luckily, the MXP was there and had 4 3D printers on board. Normally, we use them to print out keychains for kids during our outreach in Dallas, but this time it was for our own use. We whipped up a quick design on SketchUP and started printing. The design wasn't especially memorable (something we want to improve on for Supers), but it was nice to have something to give out to passing teams.

    Tycho also enjoyed our efforts (the red things are all keychains). We printed throughout the entire day since we hadn't come with any. It added a bit of stress to the whole day, which we could have done without.

    For Superregionals, our goal is to come prepared with a creative keychain or card. Janavi and Kenna have already started working on a few designs to use to connect with other teams. We're very excited to see what all the other teams have at Supers.

    Joining Iron Reign

    Joining Iron Reign By Shaggy and Justin

    The Transition from Imperial to Iron Reign

    It all started when both teams went to the North Texas Regional - I was part of Imperial at the time, with high hopes for our robot. We worked really hard on the robot, though we were only a team of three, so all were eager to see the robot compete. But, once the matches started rolling, we saw we didn't have what it took to compete against power houses like Technical Difficulties.

    This really made us feel bad because we had only worked on the robot game and not on any of the awards. At the end of the day, the Imperial team waited for the awards with our sister team, Iron Reign, because they worked really hard toward the awards. Sure enough, their hard work paid off because they were able to get the 2nd place Inspire award. They were heading to Supers. We all went out to celebrate their victory, some of us happier than others.

    While everyone was talking, our mentor made us an interesting offer. He saw us put extreme effort into making a competetitive robot and, liking our work ethic, said "You guys are varsity material." So he decided to offer Justin and I a spot on Iron Reign to continue our adventures with robotics. We could not believe Iron Reign would be so generous as to take us in with open arms. We accepted right away because we couldn't pass up such an opportunity - our team hasn't been to Supers for years.

    It came with conditions though: we had to start doing blog posts, which we had never done before, and our mentor wanted to see the same work ethic from when we worked on our Imperial robot. We were also given many opportunities here at Iron Reign. Since Iron Reign goes for all the awards, I have been able to learn what each award means and how to work towards getting them. We have also learned more on software and hardware. Tycho is an experienced coder and Austin is an experienced builder, both ready to teach anyone willing to get their hands dirty. These opportunities could not have been found anywhere except Iron Reign.

    iMake 2018

    iMake 2018 By Ethan, Charlotte, Karina, Austin, Justin, and Tycho

    Task: Present at the Fort Worth Science Museum iMake Festival

    The iMake Maker Fest is an annual event held by the Forth Worth Museum of Science and History to celebrate innovation and Maker culture. We've presented here before, most recently in the Rescue Recovery season. We really wanted to get in one more outreach event before worlds, and we already had a good connection with the museum from prior events, so we contacted them asking them if they had extra space for a 12x12 robot field. They did, and we came.

    We came early, around 8, so that we could set up an entire field for practice. Even though we're planning on volunteering, we still can't reasonably give up an entire day of drivers practice. So, we turned our outreach into a combined event - talking to parents and educators about FIRST, as well as more directly demonstrating that by driving our robots around the museum.

    We talked to about 900 people today from all over Texas, and had an overall very successful day. We had many parents interested in putting their kids in FIRST programs, and had a former FIRST official talk to us!

    Next Steps:

    We don't have much time to do any more outreach events before Worlds without sacrificing valuable time, so our next focus is solely on the robot and journal.

    Discover Summer PREP U

    Discover Summer PREP U By Ethan, Charlotte, Austin, Evan, Kenna, Tycho, and Karina

    Task: Volunteer at the DISD Discover Summer PREP event

    Today, our sponsor volunteered our RV for DISD's Discover Summer PREP U. This is the week before Worlds, but luckily this event was from 9am-1pm, so it didn't interfere with our normal practice. The event was originally planned to be outside, but it was 39°F, well below the Dallas average April temperature of 57°F. This meant that we didn't get as many visitors as planned because we can't exactly park our RV inside, so we braved it alone. For the first few hours, we didn't realize that, so we sat all lonely inside. Finally, we realized our mistake and sent people in to demo our robots and invite people outside.

    Once people heard the gospel of Iron Reign, we were flooded with visitors, and we were completely unprepared. We had a team member who fell asleep under a bench, and the masses of people trapped her underneath, and we had to wait for an oppurtune moment to free her. The RV had its usual two modes, with EV3 Sumo Bot programming in the front, and keychain printing in the back. We recently bought two new filament types, green and translucent blue, both of which produce higher quality prints and easier removal than the usual red filament.

    Inside, we had people talking to the passerby, giving them the history of Iron Reign and other FIRST-related information. Austin and Tycho drove Argos and Kraken, drawing many interested visitors of all ages. We even saw the father of one of our former alums. We talked to the most people in there, but we still drew a decent amount of people to the RV.

    Overall, we interacted with about 450 (Waiting on BigThought estimate) people. While not exactly as much as we hoped, this was still a decent showing for the weather.

    Next Steps

    This was our last outreach event before Worlds, and it was an successful one at that.

    Championship Scouting Sheet

    Championship Scouting Sheet By Abhi

    Task: Publish Scouting Sheet for Houston

    It is almost time for Championships and that means scouting time! Thank you everyone for contributing to the scouting sheet. The combined effort of all teams made this job easier for all of us. If you would like to view the sheet, visit tinyurl.com/HWC18

    Iron Reign earns FTC World Championship Motivate Award

    Iron Reign earns FTC World Championship Motivate Award

    Last week at the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) Robotics World Championship in Houston, Team 6832, Iron Reign, from the School of Science and Engineering in Dallas ISD earned the Motivate award which ranks them at the top in the outreach category.


    Top Row: Justin Bonsell, Christian Saldana, Charlotte Leakey, Tycho Virani, Evan Daane, Austin Davis
    Bottom: Janavi Chadha, Kenna Tanaka, Abhijit Bhattaru, Karina Lara and Ethan Helfman
    coached by Karim Virani, Cathy Lux and Calvin Boykin

    Each of the 5,200 active robotics teams this year is expected and encouraged to share their passion for robotics and all things Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) with younger students who haven't had the same opportunities. One hundred and twenty eight of these teams from around the world earned spots at this championship, including teams from the USA, Canada, Mexico, South America, the Middle East, the Pacific Rim and China. Iron Reign recieved this recognition for their work in creating, operating and sustaining the Mobile Tech eXPerience, an RV that they converted to a mobile STEM lab in order to support the work of Big Thought and the Dallas City of Learning Initiative.

    On board the vehicle, students can learn to program one of sixteen sumo robots, design 3D objects and print them on one of the four 3D printers, learn to program in Scratch or create virtual worlds in Minecraft. The robotics team converted the vehicle and helped run the pilot program in summer 2016. This school year their goal has been to help Big Thought sustain the vehicle by continuing to support deployments, improve the curriculum and simply "make it loud." And now Big Thought is taking vehicle operations year-round. With this vehicle and accomplished instructors, Big Thought is bringing STEM exposure into under-served neighborhoods to help young students think of themselves as future engineers, scientists or technologists. This year alone the team has contributed 680 hours supporting 15 deployments of the vehicle to neighborhoods and large events. They've taught or spoken with over 3,400 students or parents at these events, and they've shared curriculum and the story of the vehicle nationwide by participating at the National Science Teachers Association STEM Expo.

    This video will tell you more about the MXP from the perspective of the team members:

    In the robot game the team finished 26 of 64 teams in their division, a good showing for a first-time Worlds team with a new young drive team. And Dr. Woodie Flowers, lead mentor of FIRST and Professor Emeritus at MIT signed and kissed our robot:

    The team is fully appreciative of all of the support they've received this year. Special mention goes to Big Thought, Jeff Marx and Joe Schelanko of the Dallas ISD STEM Department, the SEM PTSA, the School of Science and Engineering staff and our advisor Calvin Boykin, Principal Andrew Palacios, Executive Director Tiffany Huitt and the tireless parents of all team members.

    Please see the team website for more information. The team will be going to the UIL State Championship in Austin on May 18. Finally, here is our robot reveal: