Outreach - 2015-16
The Marine Advanced
Technology Education Remotely Operated Vehicle competition is an underwater robotics competition for middle school through college. There were approximately 25 competing teams in attendance each with at least five team members plus coaches, parents, family, and other onlookers. Error 404 assisted by serving as guides and security around the facility. We also were able to promote STEM and robotics to all of these people by answering questions and promoting FIRST to those with whom we interacted.
When word reached the Pasadena City Council that a local area team (including a Pasadena resident) had competed in the World Championship in April, 2016, the Council extended an invitation to Error 404 to attend the May 12th regularly scheduled Council meeting. We discussed both our robot, our season, and FIRST in general with the Pasadena Mayor and Council. The entire presentation was displayed on PasadenaTV, as well as online.
On June 11th, we headed to the Freeman Library with our robot and notebook to give a presentation to families interested in learning more about FIRST. At the beginning of the presentation, Nick and Samuel explained our 2015-2016 robot’s chassis, mechanisms, drive system, control system, and programming. Next, Matt and Joshua were able to discuss the team’s administrative aspects like engineering documentation and outreach. Coach Belbas also discussed the other FIRST programs including jr FLL, FLL, and FRC.
On June 15th, we hosted a three hour
Tinkercad workshop for six younger stu-
dents. We first taught them the basics
by having them create a simple key-
chain, then a pencil box, and finally a
creation of their own. We also taught
the students how to prepare a model for
3d printing and printed each student’s
On June 17th, we volunteered at the Freeman Library’s Innovation Lab booth at the Houston Comicpalooza. The Innovation lab brought some of their makerspace tools such as a MakerBot 3D printer, a Gigabot 3-D printer, a laser cutter, and a CNC router, as well as samples to demonstrate projects a user can create with these tools. We showed the Comicpalooza attendees the ways they can utilize these types of machines for their own projects, and we also interacted with visitors in a variety of hands-on activities. Comicpalooza had thousands of attendees and hundreds of those lingered visited the Innovation lab booth. In addition, we spoke with Comicpalooza attendees about the “maker-space” movement bringing maker-space facilities to public libraries to provide equipment at very low cost for people across the community. In fact, Error 404 has used the Harris County Innovation lab for a variety of individual projects as well as robot needs. For example, while creating our robot for the 2016-17 season, we have used all the equipment featured above to varying degrees.
In the spring, we were invited to teach a variety of STEM classes at a local homeschool
store. We taught a three hour Autodesk Tinkercad class as well as a six hour Inventor
class. In general we taught the same skills and projects as the workshops on June 15, except
these students are not currently involved in the FIRST community. The Tinkercad class was attended by four students and six students attended the Inventor class. All attendees enjoyed the class, and we have already been invited back to teach the same classes plus others this coming summer.
As a result of the public presentation on 6-11-16, five students decided to create a rookie FTC team. The purpose of this workshop was to introduce them to their Tetrix kit of parts and other aspects of FTC such as programming, engineering notebook, and teamwork. We also took the opportunity to introduce Android Studio to the rookie team and to consult with a programming mentor. We were prepared for the rookie team, but we were pleasantly surprised by five last minute arrivals to the workshop. At the end of this two day workshop, three of the unplanned attendees decided to start a second FTC team.
Samuel and Joel taught a class of fourteen FTC students, coaches, and mentors how to use Autodesk Inventor. Most of the students had little to no prior knowledge of CAD. On the first day of class, the students learned the basic
fundamentals and mechanics of CAD including how to create a simple 2-D sketch and how to extrude that sketch to make a 3D model. They also learned how to make engineering drawings for their team’s engineering notebook. On the second day of class, the students created their own keychains on a 3D-printer and learned how to create a robot assembly using parts that have already been modeled. By the end of the class, the students had a much better understanding of basic Autodesk skills that we
hope they will use effectively during the upcoming season.
Nick and Joshua taught of class of about 20 FTC students, coaches, and mentors how to use Android Studio to create and download effective programs for their FTC robots. During the first day, the students learned how to set up the robot controller phones, how to use the OpModeRegister, and the basics of creating a simple program. By the end of the first day, they were able to make a working teleOp program they tested on robots made available for the workshop. On the second day, the students learned how to incorporate sensors into their programming (ie: color sensor, light
sensor, touch sensor, and gyro.) They also learned the two ways to create an autonomous program: Op Mode versus Linear Op Mode.
Responding to an invitation from a team member, Representative Ed Thompson visited our August 26th team meeting. During our conversations with Rep. Thompson, we had the opportunity to tell him about FIRST robotics and share some of our team’s experiences and accomplishments through the program. Afterwards, we asked Rep. Thompson for some suggestions on how we can further promote FIRST so that more young people in the community could be given the same opportunities that we have enjoyed. Knowing that we were in the process of making a “Welcome to Houston “ video for the upcoming
World Championship, Rep. Thompson offered to put us in contact with Mayor Turner’s office to 1.) see about a video cameo and 2.) discuss promoting FIRST in the city of Houston. In addition, Rep. Thompson suggested we con-
tact various civic groups such as chambers of commerce, city councils, and industry leaders. We are currently in the process of pursuing some of those leads now.
On August 18th, UTC Aerospace organized a
“Bring Your Child to Work” day. Since UTC
Aerospace had sponsored Error 404 last season, they invited us to present robotics demonstrations. After we arrived and unpacked all of the materials, we set up four different stations: drivable FTC demo robots, drivable FLL demo robots, a LEGO building station, and a show-n-tell station for the robot and notebook from last season. During this outreach effort we were able to engage 24 students and 10 UTC employee parents, thereby reaching both the general and engineering communities. All in all, the event was a great success and we received emails from parents saying it was the
children’s favorite event of the day, as well as wanting more info on FIRST itself.