“To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance in science.” -Albert Einstein
STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. STEM education is very important for students because it prepares students for their career ahead. By exposing students to STEM and giving them opportunities to explore STEM concepts, it will spark their interest in STEM careers.
Including STEM in schools’ curriculum is very important, it helps develop critical and innovative thinking among students. One of the organizations that focus heavily on STEM education is FIRST robotics. The mission of FIRST is to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders and innovators. FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) was founded in 1989 by Dean Kamen. Since the initial founding of FIRST, it has grown to be a huge organization devoted to accomplishing their mission.
“FIRST is more than robots. The robots are a vehicle for students to learn life skills. Kids often come in not knowing what to expect – of the program nor of themselves. They leave, even after the first season, with a vision, with confidence, and with a sense that they can create their own future.”
In FIRST, teams designs, build, program, and operate robots to play a floor game in an alliance format. FIRST has four competitions which are based on age:
– FIRST Lego League Jr
– FIRST Lego League
– FIRST Tech Challenge
– FIRST Robotics Competition.
The FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) is an international, annual robotics competition. Teams consist of high school students, coaches, and mentors. Each year teams compete in a different challenge such as scoring balls into goals, hanging on bars, or balancing robots on balance beams. Each team has a 6-week period to build and program their robot for competition. In addition to competing, awards are given to teams for entrepreneurship, creativity, engineering, industrial design, safety, controls, media, quality and exemplifying the core values of the program. Each year, at the end of the FRC season there are two world championships. The best teams from all around the globe go to one of the two world championships. One is held in Detroit and the other is held in Houston…
That is where our story begins because our team went to worlds.
This year is Sparky’s 20th anniversary. Sparky is a Robotics team from Tucker High School. Sparky was founded in 1999, and since then the team has grown quite a lot. Sparky has had a tradition of success and this year was no different.
Here is a video we made of our 2019 robot.
This year the FRC challenge was sponsored by Boeing.
This video talks about this year’s challenge.
We started out the season on a strong note. The way that FRC competitions work is there is first the District Competitions, then District Championships, and finally Worlds. As you progress through District Competitions you earn ranking points. The team with an adequate amount of ranking points, go to the District Championships. At the District Championships, teams compete once again to get a shot at going to the World Championships. This year, Sparky 384 performed well enough to secure a spot at World Championships. Not to brag or anything, but we also earned the title of one of the best defense bots in our district.
This is a video we made of our team at District Champs.
We went to the Detroit world championship. The championship lasted from April 24-27. We reached Detroit on April 23rd and we began the setup process and preparing logistics for the competition. On April 24, we got a chance to take in Detroit and explore. We went around Detroit and we went to the GM headquarters. It was an amazing experience.
The world championship was held in the Cobo Center. If you have never been to the Cobo Center let me tell you one word that describes it. WOW!!! I really underestimated the scale of this competition. During the competition, the Cobo center had many unique activities which were open to everyone. One of my favorites was the innovation fair. The innovation fair consisted of cutting edge technologies from the best companies from around the world. We got a chance to view and experience a demonstration of these technologies.
There were also many presentations and talks you could attend. Overall it was such a cool experience.
Although, April 24th wasn’t just for exploring. Qualification rounds began the same day. In Worlds, there are around 100 qualification rounds for each division. There are 6 divisions in the competition. After qualifications, eight alliances of four robots each, are chosen. Those alliances playoff to be the division winner. Then, the 6 division winning alliances compete in a round robin tournament to choose top two alliances to go to Einstien aka the final match. It’s 3 jam-packed days with a lot going on.
On the 24th and 25th, we had qualification matches. But on 25th along with qualification matches, we had something interesting in store for us in the evening. The World Championship match is set during the time when most high schools have their proms, so that posed an issue.
That’s why RoboProm happened. I would be lying if I said that it sounds crazier than it is because it honestly is crazy. I have to say that it was really crazy and that I actually had a lot of fun.
Sparky was able to get to division quarterfinals. We as a team are extremely proud of what we were able to accomplish at the competition. I would like to thank the entire team and all the mentors for a great season. We are looking forward to coming back next year.
We wouldn’t want to miss out on the epicness of Einstein.
What FIRST has been able to accomplish is truly extraordinary. This is my first year being introduced to FIRST and now I am hooked and I am sure there are thousands of kids around the world who feel the same way. I would like to thank organizations like FIRST for changing the world, making it a better place, and inspiring the youth.