Liftzilla Goes to Washington

This week The Body Electric attended the 2015 2nd Annual FIRST National Advocacy Conference hosted by FRC 27 Team RUSH.  With over 30 FIRST teams from across the country, Team 1389 went to Capitol Hill to promote the The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).  We lobbied for the Franken/Murray/Kirk amendment, which would give increased state funding for afterschool STEM activities including FIRST programs.

We attended talks given by lawyer and lobbyist Jim Burger from Thompson Coburn LLC on Government 101, Tips for meeting with representatives, and FIRST’s Legislative agenda. Megan Wolfe, from the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) spoke to us about the ESEA and how it has developed. FRC team 1086 gave a presentation on Bringing Advocacy Home and what our teams can do to promote STEM education and FIRST, year-round. Don Bossi, the president of FIRST also made an appearance and spoke about advocacy in our government.

The Body Electric networked and organized meetings with other Maryland Teams: FTC 7265 The Gear Grinders, FTC 8221 Cubix, FRC 2199 Robo-Lions, FRC 1111 Power Hawks Robotics, FRC 836 Robobees and FRC 2537 Atholton Space Raiders. We went to the offices of Maryland’s two senators, Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin.  We also were able to meet our district’s representative Chris Van Hollen in person and talk to him about our team and FIRST.  Our team also met with Steny Hoyer’s office to go over what the house can do to support after school mentor based programs.  All of our meetings went extremely well and our representatives seemed very responsive to our message. Afterwards, we showcased LIftzilla at the Conference Reception. The Body Electric enjoyed attending the conference and getting to know many teams better.

We hope to return next year.

Here are all of the Maryland teams we worked with last week.

We plan on doing more at the state and local levels later this year to leverage the knowledge we have gained from this experience.

Liftzilla getting around the Hill

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Meeting With VanHollen

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Prepping for Milkuski

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Thanks FRC 27 Team RUSH for pulling this together.

Team 1389 and Liftzilla are on the move this week

Several of our students are attending the 2015 2nd Annual FIRST National Advocacy Conference Presented by FRC 27 Team RUSH this week. They are learning the ins and outs of our political system and meeting teams from across the country.  Our students are coordinating with teams from across Maryland to educate federal and state political leaders on re-authorization of The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The Bill funds many k-12 educational programs including after school mentor based STEM programs.  FIRST is interested in this bill because it could enable the creation of many more teams.  Our team is interested in it because it could give Maryland more freedom to start and support FIRST teams across the state.  We will give you more of an update later this week.

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Liftzilla was also out and about the town making an appearance at the United Therapeutics grand opening of its FIRST space in downtown Silver Spring.  Liftzilla will be hanging out there for summer to help the community and United Therapeutics employees learn more about local FIRST programs.   Will Hedberg a team 1389 alumnus even stopped by to check out the team’s 2015 award winning robot.  Where will Liftzilla be next?

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Getting Pyle Middle School excited about robotics

The team talked to the 7th and 8th graders on Wednesday at Pyle Middle school. Pyle Middle School is the only middle school that feeds into Walt Whitman High School. Dozens of students came up to inspect the robot and took their shot at driving the robot, luckily it didn’t run off the stage.  Despite the chaos of a middle school lunch room, the team 1389 students felt that they were able to get nearly 30 students to sign up for the team’s email list. Thanks to Micaela and Grace for helping to get some of the Pyle girls interested. Hopefully thanks to this visit many newcomers will sign up this year at clubs night.

And so it begins


On Friday night the team had its end of the year dinner.  Many thank yous were said along with some parting words from our seniors.  Thank you again for all of the sponsors, parents, teachers, volunteers, school officials, former team members and community members for everything you did for us this summer.  All in all it was a great night that signaled the start of next season.


On Saturday the team hosted a special year-end Wii U/Melee tournament for high school students presented by Viking Smash in order to raise funds for next years Robotics season! Over 30 participants jammed their thumbs into controllers for a chance at the grand prize and bragging rights. We raised over $300 and only have $67,700 to go.

Wii U:
Project M:

Today the team started to do some organizing of the robotics room…One of the goals for next year is to stay organized for the entire season. So this is a big first step!!!  Let’s see how long it lasts.



And tomorrow the team will be showing off LIftzilla to the the Pyle middle school students.  This is the team’s first trip to the middle school this season. We will be starting to work with the local schools to start FTC and FLL teams over the next few years so that we can create a feeder system for robotic skills at the FRC high school level.

Will post more later in the week.