Each year, Dean Kamen, the founder of FIRST, creates a homework assignment for the students, mentors, parents, and Sponsors of FIRST Robotics Competition Teams. In the past, assignments have included an attempt to develop a database of current members and alumni, a push to create opportunities for FIRST to be featured in the media, and a request to contact your Congressperson and Senators and invite them to District, Regional and the Championship competitions.
This year, Dean's Homework encourages Students and Mentors to turn every FIRST Robotics Competition Event into a Spectator Sport. The indention is to fill the stands at every competition, and create standing-room only in every venue. Fans will be filled with the spirit of Gracious Competition, and watch all of the teams' Robots "compete like crazy, and treat each other well in the process."
Students and Mentors on the Grand Blanc High School Robotics Team have sent invitations and VIP Pit Passes to all of the Team's sponsors, the Grand Blanc Community School Board, and Grand Blanc High School Administration. Students have been encouraged to get their peers involved with the team, and help with outreach projects within the community. Students and Mentors have been inviting their friends and family to attend our two District Competitions, and the Michigan State Championship.
The Grand Blanc High School Robotics Team will be attending the Kettering University District Competition on Thursday, March 4, Friday, March 5, and Saturday March 6. The competition will take place at Kettering University's Connie and Jim John Recreation Center in Flint, Michigan. In addition, The EngiNERDs will also compete at the Ann Arbor District Competition at Skyline High School, in Ann Arbor, Michigan on March 11, 12 and 13.
The EngiNERDs have added a large calendar in our work area this season where each section posts when they expect to complete major tasks such as end effector design complete or chassis build complete. There are other major items noted such as when additional materials need to be ordered and the ever looming robot ship date. It's a great communication tool where everyone can see what's expected to be complete in the upcoming week. Some sections may be dependent on deliverables from other sections in order to complete theirs.
Safety has become an increased focus within the Team this year. A goal this season is to expand the Team’s Safety focus on everything from workplace Safety to proper body mechanics.
Earl Mayhew, a Physical Therapist and owner of Family Physical Therapy, spent an evening teaching the Team about biomechanics. Earl compared physics and the mechanics of a machine to the human body. Physical activity, such as lifting a heavy object, should be done with the same consideration as if a robot was designed to perform the same task. Using proper body posture and lifting techniques will not only make the task easier, it will also prevent injuries and future medical problems.
Additional training is also planned in First Aid, Severe Weather and Emergency Evacuation Procedures and proper use of various hand and power tools. A visibility board is being created to track Students’ completed training throughout the season. The board will help Mentors quickly identify Students who are trained on the tools for the task at hand.
Kylie Nickola, the Team’s 2008 season Safety Captain, was selected to continue this role for the 2009 season. Kylie has assembled the Team’s First Aid kit, hazardous material clean up procedures, and ensures the Team adheres to all required Safety procedures at the FIRST competitions.
Eric Sandrock has been selected to fulfill the role as Assistant Safety Captain this season, and will work with Kylie in all matters of Safety.
The entire EngiNERDs Team joined Keller-Williams Realty in a Truckload of Giving project. The Team spent a cold, rainy Saturday in November of 2008 collecting donations for Coats for Kids, Toys for Tots, and The Food Bank of Eastern Michigan. The Team was able to collect 1,100 lbs of food and 120 coats, among other monetary donations.
The Grand Blanc High School Robotics Team introduced its First annual training session, deemed "Robot Boot Camp". This crash-course allowed the Students to receive an introduction to a wide variety of topics relating to the FIRST program, the FIRST Robotics Competition, various engineering topics, as well as a wide range of tools and their uses.
The camp ran two evenings in December, where sixteen different topics were presented using the concept of centered learning stations. Each station demonstrated a single topic, presented by one of the Team's Mentors, in their area of expertise. Mentors demonstrated real-world engineering concepts (pictured left), based on years of experience. The students in attendance moved from station to station throughout the evening, rotating every 15 minutes. This time frame allowed maximum exposure to the material without overloading the students with new information. Using centered learning stations allows students to gain a hands-on experience with the tools and components, and provides visual-kinesthetic learners with the opportunity to interact with the equipment and materials.
The topics discussed at Boot Camp ranged from information the proper way to charge, transport, and handle batteries, to common mechanical and electrical materials and tools (pictured bottom right), to wiring, scouting, alliance selection (pictured above right), and CAD. Students were also given the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the process of measuring, drilling, and tapping a hole, and then demonstrate their knowledge by actually completing the task. While some of this information may not have been new to all of the students, it allowed returning members to refresh their knowledge in many areas. The response from the Students was very positive, and even returning Students from last season had a chance to learn new concepts in areas they may not have been exposed to previously.