FIRST Robotics Competition: Team Coach and Mentor
Pinewood School in Los Altos started an FRC team this year, and I got an email asking for mentors. Just because I can never say no to robotics, I answered and promised to help as much as I could. It turned out that they did not really have any mentors, so they realllllly needed me. They also did not have any money, so were in the process of applying for rookie team grants. For a while, we did not think we were actually going to be able to have a team.
In December, we finally got word that we received a grant, and had a team! Team 4765, PWR Up! became a reality. Kickoff was just around the corner in January, so we had a lot of work to do. The thing I love most about this team was that it was COMPLETELY student-driven. Tiffany was the captain, and really driving the entire thing. She got people organized to go to Kickoff, and Team 115 invited us to talk about things after Kickoff with them.
This year's game, Ultimate Ascent, features Frisbees and two giant pyramids on the field. The robots can score Frisbees in 4 different goals, and get extra points for climbing the tower at the end. We decided to keep things simple by not attempting to shoot Frisbees, only dump them in the low goal, but challenge ourselves by trying to pick them up from the floor. We came up with a pneumatics system that uses a piston with lint roller paper on the end to pick up the Frisbees and bring them up to a holding box, which we can then open to dump them out.
We only met 3 days a week, and there were about 8 kids on the team, but we accomplished a lot in the 6-week build period! We built a working robot that met our goals, and learned a ton along the way. See below for pictures along the way!
I had a TON of fun teaching the kids about mechanical design, using math in the real world, electronics, pneumatics, and how to use tools. I also taught them about FIRST, strategy, and leadership and responsibility. There was a dad who became my co-mentor, and between the two of us, we were able to effectively teach the kids.
We only attended one competition, Silicon Valley Regional at San Jose State.