What Are You Going to Teach the Team?

Albert-Einstein-Life-QuotesStarting in the fall of 2015 every student involved in Walt Whitman robotics needs to do at least one STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) project per year. These projects need to be on a topic that can help broaden you and your team’s understanding of any topic you find interesting.  The key here is to have fun and share the passion you have for a topic with your team mates.  The sharing part of this project is what we like to call “Students Teaching Students“.  This is an opportunity for you to practice your presentation skills and test your knowledge of your topic.  Remember no teacher will ever know the answer to every question, so this also gives you the opportunity to go and find the answers to any questions that come up.



Research project requirements

  • This is not graded, but your teammates will have an opportunity to ask questions so slouching on the assignment is not recommended
  • Create a 15 min presentation on your topic
  • You can include notes in your presentation and back up material to help people reading the slides on the web to learn from your material
  • Site any and all sources
  • Know the material well enough to field most questions from your teammates
  • Complete a small follow up report to answer any questions that you were unable to answer when you presented and to identify the key thing you learned during the assignment.  Add this followup report to your slides and publish your presentation to the team web site.
  • Use the Walt Whitman power point template

Examples of project ideas

  1. Wheels
  2. Chassis
  3. Gear boxes
  4. Arms
  5. Grabbers
  6. Power systems
  7. Control systems: speed controllers
  8. Control systems: sensors
  9. Control systems: cameras
  10. Control systems: wires & connectors
  11. Control systems: system design
  12. Pneumatics: valves
  13. Pneumatics: actuators
  14. Structures: fasteners
  15. Structures: extrusions
  16. Structures: brackets
  17. Structures: fabrication methods – cnc
  18. Structures: fabrication methods – lathe
  19. Structures: fabrication methods – laser cutter
  20. Structures: fabrication methods – vertical mill
  21. Structures: fabrication methods – water jet
  22. Structures: fabrication methods – sheet metal
  23. Structures: fabrication methods – drill press
  24. Structures: fabrication methods – 3d printer
  25. Structures: bumpers
  26. Electronics: multi-meters
  27. Electronics: power and electricity
  28. Electronics: switches
  29. Electronics: heat transfer
  30. Electronics: oscilloscope
  31. Electronics: motors
  32. Software: java
  33. Software: robotc
  34. Software: labview
  35. Software: drive train control
  36. Software: manipulator control
  37. Software: sensors
  38. Software: speed controllers
  39. Controls: laptop
  40. Controls: play station or xbox
  41. Controls: joy stick
  42. Controls: custom panel
  43. Web pages
  44. Awards
  45. Pits
  46. Hand tools
  47. Spirit
  48. T-shirts
  49. Robot feet
  50. Printing
  51. Social media
  52. Scholarships
  53. Animation
  54. Driving
  55. Schedules
  56. Materials
  57. Power distribution
  58. Crio
  59. 4-h
  60. Practice bots
  61. Fields
  62. Frc
  63. Ftc
  64. Fll
  65. Vex
  66. Best
  67. Mate
  68. Sea perch
  69. Stem
  70. Green
  71. Fund raising
  72. Events
  73. Sponsorship
  74. Email campaign
  75. Business plan
  76. Community involvement

Students are not limited to FRC or any of the above topics.  They are just recommendations.

Walk Away Cancer and The Body Electric

In two weeks, on October 10th, Team 1389 will be attending Walt Whitman’s annual cancer fundraiser, Walk Away Cancer. If you go to this page, and click “Join Our Team,” you can join the team’s fundraising pool, which will go towards cancer research. If the club as a whole raises enough money, we will get a special prize from the school. You can read more about the event here.

If you go to the event at the school (7100 Whittier Blvd) on the football field, 10/10, you’ll be able to see the team with our secondary robot. Some of the team, along with our Recycle Rush bot, will be at Girl Power on the same day, and will not be able to attend. Hope to see you there!


2 Weeks to Get Ready for Girl Power

Girl Power is in two weeks and we are really excited to attend this all girl Off season event for the first time. For those who are not aware, Girl Pwer is an unofficial off-season event that encourages female team members to take the lead in all things robot. The game will be Recycle Rush, and we will be bringing our 2015 bot, Liftzilla. These kinds of competitions are a great opportunity to get some low-stakes practice in and meet teams. It’s Saturday, October 10, at Mount Saint Joseph Academy, outside of Philadelphia.

girl power

Information for Competing Teams and Visitors

Team 433, The Firebirds, is excited to welcome you to the 6th annual girlPOWER, a female-centric FRC robotics competition. The event will be held in accordance with the rules established by FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) for the 2015 game “Recycle Rush” The official robotics season is January through April of each year, so this “off-season” event is geared toward giving students the opportunity to develop skills and confidence for the upcoming 2016 season.

Our team is the oldest continuously operated all-female robotics team in the country. One of our primary mission goals is to increase female participation in robotics in order to help motivate girls toward careers in science and technology. We feel that exposure to robotics at this age is important because girls involved in science and engineering at a young age have a higher chance of choosing a competitive career in science compared to girls with later exposure. There are several goals of the girlPOWER event:

  • Excite returning members of robotics teams in preparation for the upcoming 2016 season
  • Provide a venue for girls to drive their robot which may not be an opportunity afforded them during the competition season. This will instill and build confidence in girls to drive their robot
  • Encourage girls on existing teams to take a larger role on their teams during the regular season
  • Interest new freshmen in robotics so that they may be inclined to join the team early to get the full four-year benefit of participation
  • Expose younger children of both genders to robotics through demonstrations and hands-on opportunities with our robots.


GirlPOWER Event Rule:

We ask that you field an ALL-GIRLS Drive Team. The boys on your team will be allowed to participate in everything EXCEPT for driving the robot and handling the robot to and from the competition area. Let’s face it; we need every member of our team (boys and girls) to succeed.


Tentative Schedule of Events

Robot Competition

Time Event Location Notes
8:00 AM Doors open for teams Parking lot entrance to school
8:00 Breakfast available Cafeteria and parking lot entrance to schol Hot Coffee, Pastry, Fruit
8:30 – 9:30 Practice Rounds Competition field, gymnasium Schedule to be posted morning of event
9:30 – 9:40 Drivers meeting Competition field, gymnasium One representative per team needs to attend
9:40 – 9:50 Opening Ceremonies

·        Welcome: Master of Ceremonies

·        Opening Comments

·        National anthem sung by girl


Competition field, gymnasium
9:50 – 12:20 Qualifying Rounds Competition field, gymnasium Schedule to be posted morning of event
12:20 – 12:30 Picture of all participants Competition field, gymnasium
12:30 – 12:50 Alliance selection for
Elimination Rounds
Competition field, gymnasium
12:50 – 1:30 Lunch Cafeteria, ground floor
1:30 – 3:00 Elimination Rounds Competition field, gymnasium
3:00 – 3:45 Awards Ceremony Competition field, gymnasium
3:45 – 6:00 Team departures Parking lot entrance to school



Time Event Location Notes
8:00 – 11:00 Breakfast and snacks available Cafeteria and parking lot entrance to school Hot Coffee, Pastry, Fruit
8:30 – 2:30 FTC demonstration

Springfield Township Bomb Squad Robot demonstration

3D printer demonstration

Fontbonne Room (ground floor) Robot Demonstrations
TBD MAR information sessions Fine Arts Classroom
11:00 -2:30 Lunch and snacks available Cafeteria, ground floor Burgers, Hot Dogs, grilled chicken, chicken parm, salad, veggie burgers, snacks, candy, cold drinks
All day Team opportunity to meet with MAR representatives Fine Arts Classroom
2:30 – 3:30 Awards Ceremony Competition field, gymnasium



Team arrival

All teams need to arrive promptly for the event to begin on time.  All arrivals and departures will be from the school’s parking lot entrance. This is on the same level as the competition arena and the pits. There will be room for teams to load and unload, but we request that teams move their vehicles as soon as they are finished so that other teams can have room to unload as well.



Cars: All personal vehicles may drop off passengers at the parking lot entrance of the school. Follow the lanes marked for cars after taking the driveway to the right of the school. The parking lot is across the driveway from the school’s entrance.

Cars with trailers: See above. Please park in the back of the lot, closest to the soccer field.

Buses: Follow the lanes marked for buses after taking the driveway to the right of the school. After dropping off students and equipment, personnel at the registration desk will direct you.



Food and beverages will be available for purchase in the cafeteria on the ground floor. Food will include hot dogs, hamburgers, grilled chicken, chicken parm, salad, snacks, candy, and drinks. We ask that participants refrain from taking any food or beverage into the gymnasium or auditorium. To minimize lines, we ask that you purchase food tickets in advance of purchases in the cafeteria. Tickets will be available at the registration table and the lower level adjacent to the cafeteria.


Event T-Shirts

A limited number of T-shirts from the event will be available for sale near the sign-in desk. To ensure availability in your size, please plan on purchasing early.



Volunteers will be wearing event shirts and can help direct you. Girls from the Firebirds will also be available to help, and will be wearing “Team 433” or “Firebirds” shirts.

A Command Center has been established at the outside entrance to the gym for anyone that may need to contact a volunteer or who encounters an emergency situation.



Several activities will be available for visitors to the event. These will be available throughout the day while the competition is occurring. They will close briefly during alliance selection so that all of the participants will be available for those events.

  • FTC demonstration: Robots built by an FTC team will be on display. Participants can see how all of the components of a robot are assembled into a working machine and learn about the controls of the robot.
  • Bomb Squad robot demonstration: Members of the Springfield Township Bomb Squad will demonstrate their police department robot’s capabilities.
  • MAR demonstration: Details to be confirmed
  • 3D Printer Demonstration: The Firebirds will display the operation of creating & printing a 3D part developed using Autodesk 2015.


Pits and Work on the Robot

Each team will be provided with pit space with electrical supply. Please be respectful of the school property when working on your robot. We will not allow open flames, band saws or grinders in the pit area. The Firebirds will be able to help with some emergency repairs in our shop, but members of the visiting teams will not be permitted in the shop or to use the equipment.



Safety glasses will be required in the pits and playing field at all times. Visitors are encouraged to visit the pits and meet with the competitors. However, please be respectful of the need of the teams to prepare their robots for the next match. Parents with young children at the event will need to ensure that the children remain a safe distance from the robots at all times.


Bathroom Facilities

Male and female bathroom facilities are located outside of the gym and auditorium facilities and we ask all visitors to use these facilities.


High School Rules

  • Mount Saint Joseph Academy has graciously donated use of the gym and cafeteria for the girlPOWER We ask that visitors refrain from walking throughout the high school other than these three areas. We also request that visitors refrain from entering into classrooms.
  • Mount Saint Joseph Academy is a smoke-free environment. We ask that all attendees refrain from smoking in the school and on the property.

Have you filled in your paper work yet???

Thanks for a Great Battle O’Baltimore

Thanks to everyone who planned, volunteered and sponsored the Battle O’Baltimore. Our team could not have had a better time and are above impressed by the quality of the event you ran over the weekend.

We had two drive teams get experience, we had a pit team repair a major lift mechanism failure in 10 minutes, we had an ambassador help walk Battle O’Baltimore sponsors through he event, we had a one man scouting team, and above all we had a lot of fun. As a bonus, we made it the semi finals and finished 3rd. Thanks to our team members 8888 (FRC888‘s second team) and our alliance captain FRC1885 for a great run.

Best quote of the weekend “Driving is really hard, we should fix that for next year.”

Thanks to the parents who drove everyone and organized getting the team to and from the event.

Next stop, Girl Power on October 10th.

Here are some of the videos of our matches

Here are some images from the event.


Our journey to Einstein has started

7b2028789e05f9545c512ca8b631762aTeam 1389 is now registered to attend the CHS District – Central Maryland Event. This event will take place Mar 24-26, 2016 in Edgewater, MD. USA.

We are going to sign up for CHS District – Greater DC Event. This event will take place Mar 11-13, 2016 in Bethesda, MD. USA.

If everything works out we will be attending the CHS District – Championship Event.  This event will take place April 6-9, 2016 in College Park, MD. USA. In order to attend this event we will need to earn enough points at our two districts to be in the top 60 teams in the CHS District. Points are awarded for wins, losses, rank, participation in eliminations, participation in finals, being part of the winning alliance and winning awards.

And if we perform very well at the CHS District – Championship Event we may earn a spot to attend the FRC World Championship Event. This event will take place April 27-30, 2016 in St Louis, MO. USA.  In order to attend this event we will need to earn enough points at the CHS District – Championship Event to be in the top 29 teams in the CHS District. Points are awarded for wins, losses, rank, participation in eliminations, participation in finals, being part of the winning alliance and winning awards.

If you have never been to an FRC World Championship Event, we highly recommend watching this video.

Einstein is the field where the final 12 teams out of the 3800 FRC teams from around the world compete to earn the right to call themselves FRC champions. Only 75 teams over the last 26 years have earned that right, so to call this an amazing achievement might be not being doing the title justice.  To learn more about this event check out this FIRST wiki article.  And if you only learn one thing about the event, learn this;

The FRC World Championship Event is one of the most amazing things you could ever imagine attending and will change how you see the world.


The team has updated our team calendar with the above events, meeting times and other useful information to help for planning the next 7 months of robotics.

Have you turned in your paperwork yet?


Nearly 50 new students came out to new student night

Holy smokes. This is by far the best new students night we have ever had.  We went through last year’s game. watched a few videos and then built some robots.


Here is a fun video of one of the robots in action.

Wednesday and Thursday the team will be hard at work getting the robot ready for the Battle O’Baltimore and filling in their paper work!!!

Get Your Paperwork In!!!

Paper work

Paperwork is due Friday September 25th for returning students and students who want to attend the Battle O’Baltimore this weekend.

Paper work is due Friday October 2nd for all remaining students.

If you have issues with getting your paperwork in please send a message to admin@team1389.com

Want to learn more about what we are going to be doing this season, check out this video

RoboLeague from Digital Kitchen on Vimeo.

The Battle O’Baltimore is this weekend

The Battle O’Baltimore is this weekend and we are really excited to attend our first Off season event. For those who are not aware, BoB is an unofficial off-season event. The game will be Recycle Rush, and we will be bringing our 2015 bot. These kinds of competitions are a great opportunity to get some low-stakes practice in and meet teams. It’s Saturday, September 26, at McDonogh High School, outside of Baltimore.

If you are interested in going, please fill out this attached form.

And if you are planning on going you will need your team paper work filled in and handed in by Friday.




The  team will be meeting today at 2:30 pm to talk to new students and get the following actions completed;

  • Identify students who are attending
  • Finalize tool and pit inventory to take
  • Identify drivers
  • Finalize schedule for Friday load in and Saturday competition
  • Identify drive team
  • Identify pit crew

Let’s make this season the Loudest ever!!!

Best Clubs Night Ever!

We had over 90 students signed up, over a dozen people drove the 2015 robot Liftzilla, and nearly 2 dozen team members getting people interested in the Walt Whitman Robotics club.  We may have also found 3 new mentors!!! This is by far one of the best clubs nights we have ever had.

As a bonus. Our Principal, Dr. Goodwin announced our district competition at the PTA meeting last Wednesday.  Things are starting to get serious..

And if you didn’t see Frank’s blog from last week yet. Noodles are back in for 2016. http://www.usfirst.org/roboticsprograms/frc/blog-Frank-Answers-Friday-Pool-Noodles Robot on Robot contact is back in 2016, WOO HOOO!!!!!



Alumna’s message to students thinking about joining robotics

2013-03-28 10-22-01Robotics was my favorite place at Whitman. It was the most enjoyable “work” I’ve ever done, a retreat from stress, a place to hang out with friends, and a powerful teacher. All these are and were connected, so I’ll start with the beginning. Most people, including myself, come into robotics knowing very few relevant skills, and with maybe one or two friends there. So the first things we did were to play some team building games, and go through how to safely operate all the machinery.

Once the basics are done, robotics really starts. Robotics is wonderful in that it’s very much up to the students what to do, and every individual has a ton of options. All that’s given to you is the rules, and how to score points in the year’s game. So you decide, with your teammates, what your strategy is; offense, defense, team player, solo, some mix? Then you have to decide on just how you’re going to accomplish that strategy, what traits do you need to perform well? Maneuverability? Speed? Durability? How are you going to accomplish that, swerve drive, tank drive, 6 wheels, 4 wheels? What kind of wheels, skid wheels, mechanum, omni?

Everything is left up to the team. And the people with more experience will have more to say, but everyone can put up their ideas. And at first, no single option is decided. Which is wonderful! What happens is the various implementations of the strategy are researched, prototyped, and tested. Each implement tends to have its own sub-leader who’s passionate about that project, and is there consistently. My first year I helped lead a sub-project simply because I was there often enough, and really wanted to see it through. It was great to see it done, even when it wasn’t used later, just because I knew that this was my sub-teams little creation. One of the epic, and extremely real-world, parts of robotics is how you really get out what you put in. And if you can’t be there consistently, you still join up on whichever project you like the most, and help out when you can. The choices are really up to you, robotics gives you a freedom you really don’t find until college, and it’s brilliant and enjoyable. The “work” is so fun because it’s what you choose to do.

But the work isn’t just your work, it’s your team’s work. Each subteam member helped build or plan or wire or program the mechanism, and you all did it together. You can’t have a working mechanism with no power, or with nothing to tell the motors or pneumatics when to run, code. So you learn to accommodate the other member’s needs on the system. More than that, you learn to work together. You start becoming a team, sharing laughs at your derpy failures, and being proud of your shared work.

You also form bonds outside your subteam, robotics has dinner! Oftentimes, work goes on rather late into the evening. But that’s also a great way of team building, because you’re all in the same situation. We had one day where all the seniors blitzkrieged their math homework together. We often talked about our aspirations during *between* classes, and it’s quite brilliant to learn how everyone is getting their “work” done. So by the time the tournaments start rolling around, you’ve definitely found your niche, with probably a few closer friends, and the rest of the team being pretty awesome, but in the background.

The tournaments are awesome. First, if you’re going to a non-DC tournament, you essentially get the college life. You’re going out with your friends to get food, and sleeping (or staying up late watching movies) together. The actual rounds are a mess of high-speed stress, exhaustion, elation, and general passion. Team cheers happen, or sometimes don’t, but the entire team is hanging by the same high-tension thread while they watch the robot go. The frustrations can come out, but it’s also a period where the entire team shares the same joys and pains. And when it’s over, it’s celebration time; a few more movies, and some food, and then the return to a life where you wish the lab was open more.

When it’s through, you’ll be astounded at what you’ve learned. It really is amazing how what you see around you changes. I can name half the parts on the bus, and how it was put together. But what’s better are the lessons in what you can do. You really learn what you can do; you went through a difficult project from the very basics, and have learned enough to embark on your own projects. I’ve fundraised for my own little projects, and have the confidence to do them. No longer do I say, “oh that’d be cool,” and then just move on. I make it. Because I know I can, and because I want to. Also because there’s something intrinsically awesome about creating things. It’s not like I wasn’t self-confident before, but now I’ve got much more of a “let’s do it, because it’ll be awesome!” attitude.

This has obviously had an impact on my day to day life, but it’s probably most evident in the start of my college life. The college I’m going to started their engineering society when I was a freshmen, and it didn’t have the backing of the relatively small engineering department. I joined, and immediately became part of the board. You don’t realize how much you know till you see others who don’t really know: a fair number of the board were individual hobbyists. They didn’t know how to go about large scale, team oriented projects. So I helped forge the new society into a more professional and large scale organization, because I knew how to go about all the frustrating necessities for large projects, such as fundraising and coordination. I helped teach the various years, freshmen to senior, some of the basic skills I learned in robotics, and I organized my own projects which the society pursued together. I think what let me do all that was the organization, brute-determination, and self-confidence I learned from robotics.

So, if you’re thinking about joining, GO FOR IT! I literally can’t encourage you enough, I love seeing new people join! Join for the friends, for the skills, for the overall lessons, for the late nights and great dinners! Join for the experience, just give it a try. If you need some more practical incentives, 9 of 12 of my year’s seniors went to Ivy+ colleges. I can, and have, talked with professional engineers and can carry an in-depth conversation for a while. I’ve got enough relevant job-skills that I’m teaching some Grad Students how to go about their engineering projects, and teaching various entrepreneurs at the local tech start up how to CAD or other skills. But frankly, I think back on robotics not for these, but for the new world-view where I see all that society has built around me, and mostly for the amazing times I had; with the friends I continue to spend time with.

Good luck, and rock it!


Even Mata

Walt Whitman 2014 grad