Some CG Dispatch Articles:
Featured article: http://www.trivalleycentral.com/casa_grande_dispatch/area_news/school-news/article_ace135ca-f6ce-11e1-8df2-0019bb2963f4.html
Training and Work Schedule:
The team participates in training activities during their “off season” (the period of time outside of the six week “build season” for FRC, the interval of time between “stop build day” at the end of the six weeks and the Arizona Regional competition in March). Typically, we meet twice a week during the school year (when not in “build season”) and periodically throughout the summer. During build season, we meet every day except Sunday, from 3:15 until usually 7:30 – 8PM and on Saturday from 10AM until usually 10PM.
During the off season, we attend training at various locations – Microchip Technology in Chandler, Carl Hayden High School in Phoenix, ASU in Tempe, ASU Polytechnic in Mesa. In our regular bi-weekly meetings, I lead students through design challenges using the Engineering Design Process as our guide. We also work on building our technical and machining skills such as sketching and dimensioning, running a mill and lathe for metal work (thanks to Pete at CAC) and our presentation skills. We have been working on a two-minute “elevator pitch” that any member of the team can use when they encounter a potential sponsor when out and about in the community as well as a longer 15 minute presentation with handouts and a power point presentation for those who would like more information.
A problem that I have seen in regular instruction is that students come into the classroom and wait to be told what to do. They expect to be shown how to find the answer of to be shown the “right” way to do something. That doesn’t happen in robotics. Students quickly learn that there are many ways to accomplish a task, and there is no “right answer.” There is only their answer to a problem and if it works then they go with it and try to improve on it. There is no back of the book to look at for the answers. In robotics, students decide what needs to be done and how to go about doing it. I and the other mentors are simply a resource that they can draw upon. I like to say that after the kick-off event for each year’s FIRST competition that I simply become the bus driver. The kids do the work. They get the credit.
I made the mistake during my second year of sponsoring the team of tweaking some things on the robot after everyone had left for the night. The students quickly corrected me on this. As I recall, I was reprimanded by the students with “Mr. Morris, with all of its flaws and all of its glory, this is our robot...” The students take pride in their creation. It really does become “the hardest fun that they have ever had.”
My goal with the Robotics Team is to create a passion in our students for science and technology by showing how cool is can be to take the things that they are learning in school and doing something amazing with it. I want to create relevance for what our kids are learning and help them to see that there is a purpose for it beyond the classroom. I want to inspire the next generation of innovators and problem solvers. I want to help create a generation that will take the next step in our technological society and accomplish great things. I am a science fiction nerd. The tag line from “Star Trek – The Motion Picture” was ‘The Human Adventure is Just Beginning.” I want our kids to be a part of that adventure and hopefully to lead it in creating a positive future for all of us.
Please let me know if you have any questions or if there is anything that I might discuss more fully.