At the start of May, Indiana students from K – 12th grade would have competed on an international stage at the FIRST Championship in Detroit, Michigan as a celebration of the hard work, community impact, and technological feats the students accomplished. Instead, the season came to an abrupt halt in Mid-March due to the current crisis, and teams were unable to complete their season. To ensure the hard work of these students would not be overlooked, the FIRST robotics community rallied together and organized a Virtual Showcase to celebrate the achievements of their talented students, mentors, and volunteers and the impact they’ve made on their local communities.
FIRST LEGO League Junior students in K-4th grade were invited to share their LEGO Models and the Core Values they learned this season at the FIRST World Festival. Instead of talking to Reviewers in-person in Detroit, the students joined the virtual showcase and showed off their LEGO Models of the town they designed, explaining how they built and programmed a ’Boomtown’ that has moving parts and is accessible, eco-friendly, safe for all. Congratulations to the following teams from Indiana for their hard work:
• FIRST LEGO League Junior Team 738, Jr SmartBots from Lincoln Elementary School, Hammond, Indiana
• FIRST LEGO League Junior Team 19904, Pandacorns from Twin Branch Model School, Mishawaka, Indiana
• FIRST LEGO League Junior Team 20201 Rainbow Cheetahs from Twin Branch Model School, Mishawaka, Indiana
Students in 4th – 8th grade on FIRST LEGO League teams were recognized in the Virtual Showcase for the exceptional work they put into building and programming a LEGO Mindstorm robot, the team-building skills they developed while learning about Core Values, and the research they did to identify a local community problem and create a solution to overcome that challenge. The following teams had planned to represent Indiana at invitationals and festivals from California to South Carolina and beyond:
• Advancing to the FIRST World Festival in Detroit, MI – FIRST LEGO League Team Roboforce from Fishers, Indiana;
• Advancing to the FIRST World Festival in Detroit, MI – FIRST LEGO League Team Raider Fixin8tors from Carmel, Indiana;
• Advancing to the Razorback Open Invitational at the University of Arkansas- FIRST LEGO League Team Something to Do with Waffles from Bloomington, Indiana;
• Advancing to the Razorback Open Invitational at the University of Arkansas- FIRST LEGO League Team Heroes 230 from Granger, Indiana;
• Advancing to the Carolinas Open Invitational in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina – FIRST LEGO League Team GooseBuster MISHines from Mishawaka, Indiana;
• Advancing to the North American Open Championship at LEGOLAND in California – BioFi from Granger, Indiana.
FIRST LEGO League Team 21449, The Golden Pandas from Westfield, Indiana became one of twenty teams recognized as a FIRST ® LEGO® League Global Innovation Award Semi-Finalist. The Global Innovation Award showcases the real-world, innovative solutions created by FIRST LEGO League teams from around the world as part of their annually themed Challenge.
Demonstrating originality, creativity, potential impact and value, the Golden Pandas were recognized for their conceptualization of a C. diff spore detector, designed for use in hospitals to reduce hospital-acquired infections caused by bacteria. Our Indiana team will participate in virtual judging over the summer to be considered for the final Global Innovation Awards and a chance to receive $20,000 USD to bring their project to market.
The Indiana FIRST Tech Challenge program engages students in 7th – 12th grade to design, build, program, and operate robots to compete in a head-to-head challenge in an alliance format. While the teams were unable to compete in the FIRST Tech Challenge State Championship in March, the virtual showcase offered an amazing opportunity to celebrate the achievements. Below is a small highlight of the awards given out during the showcase to program teams, mentors, and volunteers:
• FIRST Tech Challenge Team 8711, The Gas Attendants from Elkhart, earned the Enthusiastic Imagery Award for their stylish presence and enthusiastic attitude;
• FIRST Tech Challenge Team 535, TOBOR from Crawfordsville, earned the Gracious Professionalism Award for being both a tough competitor and a generous ally;
• FIRST Tech Challenge Team 535, TOBOR from Crawfordsville, earned the Inspire Award at the IU Kokomo Qualifying Tournament for their performance both on and off the playing field.
• FIRST Tech Challenge Team 9862, CTRL+ALT+DESTROY from Griffith, earned the Inspire Award at the NorWestin Qualifying Tournament for their performance both on and off the playing field.
• FIRST Tech Challenge Team 9864, Jug Rox Robotix from Shoals, earned the Inspire Award at the Light the Spark Qualifying Tournament for their performance both on and off the playing field.
• FIRST Tech Challenge Team 14400, Space Cadets from Hobart, earned the Inspire Award at the Northern League Championship Tournament for their performance both on and off the playing field.
• FIRST Tech Challenge Team 12835, Pixelated from Granger, earned the Inspire Award at the Mahoning Valley Qualifying Tournament in Ohio for their performance both on and off the playing field.
• Alice Wilcoxson, Clinical Associate Professor at Purdue University and long-time FTC Volunteer, earned the Volunteer of the Year Award for their contribution to FTC;
• John Gifford, FTC Mentor of Team 11959, Kernel Panic from Columbus, earned the Compass Award for being a beacon and leader in the program;
• FIRST Tech Challenge Team 8578, Juden-Ki from Columbus, earned the Promote Award for creating a compelling message to change our culture;
Three FIRST Tech Challenge students were recognized as Indiana Dean’s List Finalists, which are current student leaders who have led their FIRST teams and communities to increased awareness for FIRST and its mission while achieving personal technical expertise and accomplishment. Congratulations to the following students for your achievements:
• Kaylee Lane from FIRST Tech Challenge team 12231, “Warrior Tech” from North Miami High School in Denver, Indiana, who provided some feedback about earning the award:
o “Throughout my time in FTC, I have been able to lead my team and help my community by organizing events to spread STEM education, and volunteering to help groups and individuals in need. I was honored to be recognized for these efforts as a Dean’s List finalist.”
• Joseph Maffetone from FIRST Tech Challenge team 12385, “Pixelated” from GEARS in Granger, Indiana;
• Gwyn Redding from FIRST Tech Challenge team 535, “Tobor” from Crawfordsville High School in Crawfordsville, Indiana, who provided some feedback about earning the award:
o “I feel like I was being recognized for my hard work and effort I put into my team. It feels great to know that I have been recognized as a leader who wants to see and help others succeed. I feel incredibly proud and thankful for my team for seeing these qualities in me. I do a lot outside of FIRST as well so I’m proud of myself for being able to be a leader and be involved in so many amazing things that give me an opportunity to learn new skills and help others.”
The final program recognized in the Virtual Showcase was the FIRST Robotics Competition Program where under strict rules, limited time and resources, teams of students in 9th – 12th grades are challenged to raise funds, design a team "brand," hone teamwork skills, and build and program industrial-size robots to play a difficult field game against like-minded competitors. Only thirty two teams out of fifty seven were able to compete in official district events this year as the season was suspended in the middle of competitions. The virtual showcase offered an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of our teams, mentors, and volunteers:
• Brett Heininger, Website and Media Content Manager at AndyMark, FIRST Alumnus, and Key Volunteer who earned the Volunteer of the Year Award for their long-term commitment to the program;
• Frank Hobart, Lead Mentor of FRC team 2197, Las Pumas from New Prairie High School, New Carlisle, Indiana who earned the 2020 Indiana Woodie Flowers Finalist Award for their outstanding mentorship.
• FIRST Robotics Competition team 1741, Red Alert Robotics from Center Grove High School earned the prestigious Chairman’s Award at the Bloomington District Event Sponsored by the Indiana Army National Guard. Comments from the team included:
o A quote from Lead Mentor, Nathan Coulombe from FRC 1741 Red Alert Robotics on their award.
"We’re honored to have been recognized for this prestigious award for the 6th time in our team history. This really shows the tremendous impact Red Alert has had in the promotion of STEAM in the broader community"
o Some quotes from Red Alert Robotics Students "This year it was such an honor and excitement to win Chairman’s. This was my first year in FRC and it really opened up my eyes to the dedication, passion, and prestige that our team and program has, and that the FIRST Chairman’s award comes with. This was an amazing opportunity and I’m so glad that we honored our team’s 15th anniversary with this award!" – Brinna Porat, Freshman
"It was really awesome getting to win Chairman’s at our only competition we were able to attend. It fortunately allowed us to take away something from our short season. It was especially great in my eyes because it was my senior season and it proved all of our hard work over my four years on the team." – Chase Rivas, Senior
"Winning Chairmans this year was beyond exciting. Chairmans is something that we work for every single day, in off season and during season. To be recognized for the extensive work we are involved in in our community and school is the greatest feeling, and it only inspires and propels us toward greater success in the future." – Meredith Fain, Senior
"Winning the Chairman’s award was amazing and shocking. Being recognized for all the time and hard work we put into spreading STEAM and FIRST in our community and school is gratifying as it put into perspective how much we were really doing." -Isabelle Baxter, Junior
• FIRST Robotics Competition team 135, Penn Robotics from Penn High School, Mishawaka, Indiana earned the prestigious Chairman’s Award at the St. Joseph District Event. Comments from the team included:
o “We are so thankful to be a part of an organization of wonderful people especially through these difficult times. We are honored to have our team’s work recognized, each team member, coach, and mentor put in so much work and time this year. We are proud of all the skills each student had the opportunity to develop through the season. This experience has gone to show that FIRST is so much more than robots, it’s a family.”
• FIRST Robotics Competition team 234, Cyber Blue from Perry Meridian High School, Indianapolis, In earned the prestigious Chairman’s Award at the Columbus District Event Sponsored by Toyota. Comments from the team included:
o A quote from Chris Fultz, Lead Mentor FRC 234 CyberBlue
“We are honored and excited to receive the District Chairman’s Award from the FIRST In Indiana Columbus event. We were one of the lucky teams who were able to compete in an official event this season, and look forward to the summer and fall off-season events so that many more teams will be able to see how their designs and strategy come together in a competition. This season has shown us that FIRST is really more than robots, as teams have pulled together, stayed strong and used their talents to help others.” Chris Fultz, Mentor, Cyber Blue, FRC 234
“I’m so proud to be a part of my team. Even though we can’t compete or see each other face to face, the bond we have built through working together and facing challenges keeps us strong.” Addison, Senior Member of Cyber Blue, FRC 234.
• FIRST Robotics Competition team 2197, Las Pumas from New Prairie High School, New Carlisle, Indiana earned the prestigious Chairman’s Award at the Perry Meridian District Event Sponsored by the University of Indianapolis. Comments from the team included:
o A quote from FRC 2197 Las Pumas on their Award
“Team 2197, Las Pumas, New Prairie High School Robotics, is very honored and humbled to have won this award. It is a testament to not only the 2020 team but also to the teams that came before. No one person can take credit for this award, but I would like to recognize my seniors who have endured the rough times and now get to bask in this success: (in no particular order) Sydney M., James G., Julia J., Skylar D., Bryan H., Zach T., Alex T., and Chris H. A special thank you to all of the 2197 mentors who guided the team along with our very loyal partners/sponsors. I would be remiss if I did not mention the New Prairie administration of Dr. White, Dr. Cannon, Mr. Holifield, Mrs. Sass, Mr. Scott, and Mr. (JP) and our parents who supported us through both good and not-so-good seasons and never gave up.”
Description of the Chairman’s Award from the FIRST Website: The Chairman’s Award is the most prestigious award at FIRST, it honors the team that best represents a model for other teams to emulate and best embodies the mission of FIRST. It was created to keep the central focus of FIRST Robotics Competition on the ultimate goal of transforming the culture in ways that will inspire greater levels of respect and honor for science and technology, as well as encouraging more of today’s youth to become science and technology leaders.
Joining the FIRST Tech Challenge Dean’s List Finalists, are two additional students who earned the FIRST Robotics Competition Dean’s List Finalist Awards. These students demonstrated leadership and a commitment to the FIRST Core Values in addition being well balanced students in both technical expertise and entrepreneurship. Congratulations to the following students for your achievements:
• Payton Gross from team FRC 3494 Quadrangles, Bloomington High School South, Bloomington, Indiana, who provided some insight into the work she had done in her community:
o “I work on many areas within the team, such as fabrication, electrical, assembly, fundraising, awards, and outreach. One of my highlights on the team was working with Matt Light, former New England Patriots football player who runs the Light Foundation, to organize our team visiting their disadvantaged youth summer camp… As outreach lead, I also participate and organize our participation in many local outreach events, like Hour of Code, elementary school science nights, and GEMS events. I also organized visits of Congressional Representative Trey Hollingsworth and State Representative Jeff Ellington to our workspace so they could have an in-depth look at what FIRST is to our students. It feels incredible to be representing my team and FIRST Indiana, I really never would have expected this. None of this would be possible without my team, mentors, volunteers, and the FIRST Indiana family.”
• Adedoyin Famuyiwa from team FRC 6956 SHAM-ROCK-BOTICS, Westfield High School, Westfield, Indiana who explained why she has a passion for inspiring women in STEM:
o “I won the regional NCWIT aspirations award for my "significant demonstrated interest and aptitude for computing", specifically my web app designed to teach students facts about different countries, my research, and testing for my noninvasive blood glucose indicator watch, as well as my contributions to my FRC programming and website subteams. Being recognized by NCWIT made me proud of my accomplishments and further motivated me to improve my existing projects. During the awards banquet, I was able to meet and talk to other high school girls and career women about their in computing, and their journey to get to where they were. Listening to them recount their highs and lows as women in STEM really inspired me to push me to similarly become an inspiration for other young women in STEM and computing and taught me the significance of female mentorship.”
Congratulations to the students, mentors, and volunteers in our community who were recognized for their impact. FIRST is a robotics community that is building a better future and preparing our students for life. That is clear to see by the achievements listed here.
FIRST® is tackling the trend of declining enrollment in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programs by using a competition sports style model that makes STEM learning fun and inspiring for students. Some have questioned if something "fun" can be an effective tool to change peoples lives but initial data from a three year study by FIRST® on students in their first year of college indicates that FIRST’s® positive impacts continue into post secondary education, with FIRST® alumni continuing to show impacts on STEM-related attitudes, as well as impacts on interest in engineering and technology-related majors, engineering course-taking, and STEM-related internships and summer jobs. Results to date indicate that FIRST ® is already making a lasting difference in career interests and educational choices for the young people who participate in the program. So students can learn and have fun at the same time! See the full study results at https://www.firstinspires.org/about/impact.
This competition is part of the larger organization, FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), and their FIRST® Robotics Competition for high school students. Over 3,600 teams, more than 91,000 students, and nearly 26,000 professional mentors across the world from 27 countries (including places like Canada, Mexico, China, Israel, and Australia), will be participating in District, Regional, and State-level events in hopes of qualifying for the 2020 FIRST World Championship in Detroit, MI. and Houston, TX.
FIRST® was founded in 1989 to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology. Based in Manchester, NH, the 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit public charity designs accessible, innovative programs that motivate young people to pursue education and career opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math, while building self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills.
FIRST® robotics competition combines the excitement of sport with the rigors of science and technology. Under strict rules, limited resources, and time limits, robotics teams of 25 students or more are challenged to raise funds, design a team "brand," hone teamwork skills, and build and program robots to perform prescribed tasks against a field of competitors. These competitions create "real-world engineering" experiences for all participating students.
In addition to teacher mentors, volunteer professional mentors lend their time and expertise to help guide the work and development by each FIRST robotics team. For more information about this event, or FIRST Robotics, please contact: Renee Becker-Blau, FIRST Indiana Robotics President, at 414 704-1415. Additional information is also available at the website: http://www.firstindianarobotics.org/ or http://www.firstinspires.org/.