The following are links to our 2018 FRC Chairman’s Award essay as well as our 2018 video. The Chairman’s Award recognizes a team that exemplifies FIRST values: a team that other teams can look up to. This team embodies all the ideals of FIRST including gracious professionalism. The award application includes an essay in addition to short answer responses and a video, all of which explain how our team exemplifies the ideals of FIRST.
Some Good Links
Build Robots. Build Friendships. Build Communities.
For 16 years now, our team has been building robots. Through our hard work, we have cultivated friendships and outreach in our community. We are the product of our community, and it is only right that we give back in any way we can. As we apply the ideas promoted by STEM during build season, we also emphasize the principles of FIRST in our service for our school, our students, and our community.
Robotics encompasses the life skills needed for teamwork, critical thinking, and intrapersonal relationships. No matter the size, any group of people is capable of coming together and creating something great. It takes a strenuous amount of time, work, and effort to create something successful. That success comes from a combination of not just technical skill but the prosperity produced by students working together to create something more than a robot. Our creation is the tangible evidence of our hard work, the mistakes we have made, the pieces we have fixed, and the friendships we have formed. Our love for robots boils over and encourages us to reach out and help other teams with theirs. In 2015, FIRST changed the robot operating system from cRIO to roboRIO. Team 1209 was the only Oklahoma team selected to test the new system before it was rolled out in January. After that test, we posted to Chief Delphi and made presentations at our local kickoff, answering any and all questions other teams had. Therefore, we may be a robotics team on the surface, but underneath, we are a group of friends coming together as a team to build something great.
Our team takes pride not only in building robots, but in connecting with each other and the community around us. As a team under FIRST, we embody not only robotics and STEM in our activities but life skills that are imperative to our success as future adults. Our team president, Ben H., believes “FIRST has drastically improved [his] ability to speak clearly and communicate [his] ideas.” Team 1209 paves a path to academic achievement and interpersonal skills, which is important for the futures of our members in building business connections and presenting in professional settings. Our vice president, Morgan M., states “we all share a passion to build and work together as a team, and our shared passion makes it easy to communicate.” For a diverse team of well-seasoned, aspiring engineers and rookies, the only way to succeed is to learn from our failures and move toward a single accomplishment: building the robot. “Differences are a good thing,” says Riley M, “[they have] made us capable of letting go of personal and social inhibitions and allowed us to learn to be ourselves around others.” With students from different grades and backgrounds, team members must overcome their differences to work together. As a team, we learn from each other while solving problems, strengthening bonds, and creating lifelong friendships.
Team 1209 has made it our goal to reach out and share our wealth of knowledge with students in our school and children in our community. It takes more than a robot for a team to reach its full potential. Having the tangible evidence of our hard work is nothing compared to the difference we can make in the lives of others through outreach. With our long history of community service, we practice our work ethic through volunteering at various nonprofit organizations, one such example being the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma. Every week over the summer we volunteered to help sort food items for distribution to low-income families. Since first volunteering at the food bank, team members have been more than eager to return. Not only do we provide food for less-fortunate communities, but we also provide leftover food from our team meetings to poor, starving college students at the University of Tulsa.
During the summer of 2017, our team visited Hawthorne, which is an underprivileged, low-funded elementary school with a D grade for quality and student test scores. We collaborated with Crossover, a nonprofit organization based in Hawthorne, to create an FLL team, Crossover Impact Team Robotics Club #33004. Despite not winning first place at the University of Tulsa’s FLL Qualifier, the experience has given the students a deeper understanding of STEM and instilled in them the spirit of coopertition.
Team 1209 encourages youths in our community to discover the opportunities that STEM provides. As a team, we host FLL qualifiers at our school and our team members volunteer as referees and judges. At each of these events, our volunteers encourage the kids to work hard while making it an enjoyable environment for all who participate. Many volunteers and students who attended our first qualifier in 2017 returned for our second qualifier in 2018. Our outreach at Hawthorne Elementary, as well as in FLL qualifiers, give kids the chance to explore STEM in areas close to their homes, saving them the expense of moving out of the city to a large event. FLL is judged in a way that allows young students to experience a fun competition without the harsh reality of failure, which helps enrich team cooperation and bestow new experiences in STEM.
Not only have we helped with elementary schools and FLL teams, but during the summer of 2018, we hosted a STEAM summer camp at The Salvation Army North Mabee Boys & Girls Club. Each day, we focused on one letter of STEAM and led educational and hands-on activities with the kids. Another North Tulsa community center that we worked with over the summer of 2017 was the Dream Center, which provides many social services. Their organization provides children’s education, medical care, legal help, hot meals, weekly groceries, clothing, tutoring, GED classes, team sports, and many other amenities to people in need. There, we sponsored a three week long STEM camp. We instructed classes such as how to use EV3s and how to build Rube Goldberg machines. Our team’s goal for outreach is to improve the lives of low-income families and children in our Tulsa community through the teachings of STEM and FIRST.
In the past year, a small group of people involved in the FIRST program made a proposition to create an FRC Regional here in Tulsa. The leaders of this group approached our team and interviewed a few of our members to help encourage corporate sponsors to fund this program. The proposal was sent to FIRST in early January, and teams based throughout Green Country are eagerly awaiting their response. This is an example of our team working to improve our community by bringing FIRST closer to home. With a Green Country regional, Tulsa and Northeast Oklahoma based FRC teams will not have to go as far to attend a competition. This will put less strain on teams with financial problems. This may also encourage other STEM enthusiasts to attend these nearby competitions, and grow interest in STEM throughout our community.
We may be a robotics team that teaches students the basics of wiring electronic components or building chassis, but that is only half of what our team truly is. Team 1209 strives to teach its members social skills that will help them later on in life as well as improving the lives in the community around us.