One of the most important goals we have as a team is to continuously increase the positive impact we have within our community. The results of this are shown through our school’s adoption of a robotics course into the curriculum, which includes an in depth look at the yearly FTC game, and an opportunity for students to build and compete with their own robots.
As each year progresses, we have developed a complete marketing and community outreach plan that encompassed many of our original goals: building a thriving and energetic technology program at our high school, expanding to local middle schools and starting FLL teams, involving the community of San Diego, working with engineering mentors from our corporate sponsors, and emphasizing the importance of responsibility within the STEM community.
Team 3128: The Aluminum Narwhals’ Robotics Summer Camp
Our robotics summer camp is one of our main ways that we are able to contribute back into the community. Through this 5-week camp, we bring students on campus for a week long course using the VEX IQ and VEX EDR kits to teach them basic principles of engineering and programming while sparking a future interest in robotics. By holding it at Canyon Crest Academy and inviting team members to be a part of it, we continued fostering a culture within our own team of spreading excitement about robotics and passing on what we’ve learned. Furthermore, by inviting campers year after year to bring their excitement and interest to our school we are building a reputation of actively encouraging the growth of young minds within our community.
Campers complete a series of tasks with their robots that walk them through programming basic motors and sensors, and all of these concepts culminate into one complex challenge that tests all of their newly acquired abilities at the end of the week. We do all of this in a fun camp environment where campers also take part in various recreational activities.
Not only do we engage the younger members of our community, by putting on these camps we also are able to help fund the academics at our school and allow our own team to expand. Last year’s camps were so enormously successful that we are hoping to expand our total capacity next summer from 200 campers over four weeks to 1000 campers over five weeks. Along with this, we will be inviting 60 volunteers from our high school to participate in mentoring these campers, as well as hiring a full-time set of staff members from our team alumni and the surrounding community.
Our team has recently begun collaborating with nearby libraries and youth centers, creating a balanced curriculum to encourage our community’s kids to pursue a passion for STEM. We currently plan to have a 6-month workshop at San Diego - Carmel Valley Library, led every week by our own team members. Although we use a mix of VEXIQ kits and FRC KitBot parts to teach them the basics of robot design and programming, our main goal is to create a welcoming atmosphere for students who have never done anything STEM/robotics relate. Through these workshops, we can get directly involved in the community and spread awareness about FIRST.
Qualcomm QKids Presentations
Qualcomm QKids is a yearly event that we began participating in July 2016. Every year, Qualcomm invites local STEM organizations to come and present in personalized booths while elementary-middle school students of Qualcomm’s own employees are welcomed to tour around and get themselves involved. Held within Qualcomm’s headquarters, children come piling in for a chance to view our latest robot and listen to the year’s game task. Through this event, our team raises awareness of FIRST and promotes our annual robotics summer camp designed to get young children on track for a possible focus in robotics in high school.
The Aluminum Narwhals go to different schools every year to present and demonstrate our robot to younger audiences. Through robot demos/presentations at local schools, this helps attract attention towards the FIRST program and the goals in which it pursues, encouraging schools to fund and support their own FIRST team. Likewise, interest in robotics at a young age draws attraction for students to enter our high school and because an FRC member, expanding the quality of our projects.
Mentoring and Assisting Other Teams
Through our yearly robot presentations at elementary schools, these efforts have widely spread the influence of FIRST and eagerness for a program dedicated towards robotics. This year, we are currently helping Solana Ranch Elementary School form several Jr. FLL/FLL teams. Through our initiation of supporting local schools as they begin participating in FIRST competitions, we hope to instill a passion for STEM into young scientists and engineers at a younger age.
Hosting San Diego FTC Regionals
For the past two years our team has helped our school host the San Diego FTC Regional Event. It will be an awesome opportunity for people at our school and in our community to get a preview of the exciting competitions within FIRST. Our team is dedicated to providing volunteers, a workshop space for FTC teams, and any other help we can. In addition, our school’s talented artists and performers plan to entertain during the event, allowing a unique integration of robotics and the arts.