Competitive robotics at Jefferson Middle School
Coach: Ms. Kate McKenzie firstname.lastname@example.org
We will have at least two extracurricular FLL teams this year. There is not a LEGO robotics STEAM class this year, so we will only meet outside of school hours.
Students interested in participating should come to the first weeks of practice and see if it's a good fit. If you are sure you want to be on a team, fill out this application form and turn it in to Ms. McKenzie.
Google Doc: JMS Robotics application (you can print it OR make a copy to your own Drive folder and fill it out, then print it or send me a link to it.
Expectations for participation
Because this is a competitive team, we expect students to make a commitment to participating at the same level they would for an athletic team.
- Students will attend all meetings after school. We will meet on B days from 2:45 - 4:05, except Fridays. The Activity Bus leaves JMS at 4:15. Students must sign up for the activity bus each day that they stay. (This means we'll be meeting Monday/Wednesday and Tues/Thurs on alternate weeks.
- Students will attend the Columbia FLL tournament (date TBA, but I think it will be a Saturday in December)
- Students will attend three Saturday morning practice sessions in the weeks prior to the tournament.
- Students will fully participate in all aspects of FLL -- robot design, strategy & programming, and the Innovation Challenge project.
- Students will honor the Core Values of FIRST and GRIP behavior standards of JMS.
- Students must maintain at least a C average in all classes to remain on the team.
FIRST Robotics is a global nonprofit that runs robotics competitions at all levels for students ages 5 - 18. You can learn more about the whole program here: www.firstinspires.org
FIRST LEGO League (FLL) (6th-8th grade)
FLL uses LEGO Mindstorms EV3 or SPIKE Prime robotics and has a heavy emphasis on developing soft skills such as teamwork, project/time management, research skills, public speaking and group communication. Students build and program autonomous robots to navigate a game field and perform tasks. They also research a real-world problem related to the theme for the season and propose a well thought out and innovative solution.
At the tournament, they compete all day with other teams in the robot game, and also go before a panel of judges to present their research project solution, their robot design and strategy, and talk about their teamwork. The top teams will advance from a local tournament to a state tournament.
Teams are allowed no more than 10 members under FIRST rules.
To learn more about FLL, watch this YouTube video: About FIRST LEGO League
FIRST Tech Challenge (8th grade)
FTC has greater emphasis on technical skills and the engineering design process. Students use industrial-style parts to build a robot that is both autonomous and remote controlled. They generate an engineering design notebook showing all their work and design process, which they then present to judges. Students must already have good teamwork skills for this competition because the build process is much more intense and technically demanding.
Two MU engineering students come to meetings every week to mentor the team with robot design, building and programming. FTC teams are allowed no more than 12 members under FIRST rules.
To learn more about FTC, watch this YouTube video: What is First Tech Challenge?
Robotics is an expensive activity. It costs about $1600 per team per season. The JMS STEAM fund covers team registration but Ms. McKenzie applies for grants and accepts donations to cover the other costs, such as upgrading robots, team t-shirts, project materials and snacks for meetings. If we have to travel for a tournament, parents will be asked to provide transportation and supervision.
I am looking for a business to sponsor our teams! If you know of a Columbia company that would like to be recognized for supporting educational robotics with their name on our t-shirts oodles of appreciation, please help me connect with them.
Robotics begins meeting the week of Sept. 6.
FLL team members will be determined by Oct 1.
We will meet every B day after school in room 042 from 2:45 - 4:05. Students can ride the activity bus home or arrange parent pickup. In October, meetings may start going until 4:30 or 5.
As we approach the tournament date, we will add additional weekday work sessions and some Saturday morning work sessions.
FTC game release is in mid-September. We will start working on the robot late-September. The meeting schedule may change based on the availability of our MU Engineering student mentors.
FTC competition consists of two "qualifying meets" with other teams, and a tournament. They meets will probably be in November or December and the tournament is in late January or February. (A lot has changed this year with the regional competition structure, so there is a little uncertainty.)
Benefits -- Why join a robotics team?
Competitive robotics brings together many skills that lead to success in life and careers. Students learn many technical skills, design process thinking, teamwork skills, time management and how to succeed under pressure, fail gracefully and learn from mistakes. Universities and employers recognize the benefits of competitive robotics. FIRST participants are eligible for more than $3 million in college scholarships given to high school seniors every year. Employers such as Boeing, 3M, National Instruments, Honeywell and Disney are all sponsors of FIRST programs because they recognize the workforce value of all the technical and soft skills that FIRST teaches.
JMS robotics teams are sponsored by these generous organizations:
Columbia STEM Alliance https://columbiastemalliance.com/