Discussed Making Robotics a Sport with MCPS

Two weeks ago students from Walt Whitman and Richard Montgomery High Schools met with staff from MCPS to discuss making robotics a sport.  The goal of the meeting was to learn how this transition could take place.  Instead the meeting focused more on bringing MCPS staff up to speed on the scale of robotics in the county and why robotics should be a sport.

As a refresher, here is the scale of robotics in the county;

Teams Students Annual Private Funds
FRC 6 210  $           90,000
FTC 21 252  $           73,500
FLL 60 540  $           72,000
Jr FLL 13 52  $           11,700
VEX 4 48  $           14,000
VEX – IQ 6 54  $              7,200
BotBall 2 18  $              2,400
Non Competitive programs 8 240  $              9,600
 Sub totals              120          1,414  $        280,400

 

We also talked about the lack of a secondary sports equivalent for STEM sports in Montgomery County.  Right now the county spends nearly 8 million dollars a year on 22,400 middle school and high school athletes to play after school sports.  That translates to $7,000 per high school team and $4,600 per middle school team.  In contrast, most robotics teams pay MCPS and CUPF $6,000 a year.

Sports Gap 1

We also discussed that f MCPS were to match the private funds currently invested in robotics that the county could double or even triple the number of teams in the county and ensure that each team has a coach that is well rewarded for their time.  We also discussed our estimate of nearly $650,000 per year to pyt robotics in every school.

# of schools Registration Teacher stipend Annual Program total
High School 25  $        5,000  $        5,000  $         250,000
Middle School 38  $            500  $        2,500  $         114,000
Elementary School 135  $            250  $        1,500  $         236,250
MCPS Coordinator 1  $      50,000  $           50,000
 $         650,250

 

 

We were able to talk about why robotics should be a sport, so we went through our points.

  1. Larger stipends for robotics coaches
  2. Schools participate in filling robotics coach vacancies so that teams do not go with out a coach
  3. Access to practice space and build space without being charged CUPF fees
  4. Access to MoCo transportation resources for attending events
  5. Access to team administration support in the school and at the county level
  6. Access to gyms and schools for tournaments at zero cost to the team
  7. Access to a well maintained shop similar to upkeep on the school weight room
  8. Students could varsity letter in robotics

 

We also discussed the major positives for the MCPS athletics Directors office, MCPS and the County Council

  1. More people would be interested in and responsible for growing STEM students inside the county
  2. More people would be interested in and responsible for growing diversity of STEM student participation inside the county
  3. More people would be interested in and responsible for growing the number of project based learning activities inside the county
  4. More students inside the county would be prepared to walk out of high school prepared for both college and vocational training
  5. Athletics would get access to county, state and federal funds dedicated towards STEM programs
  6. Athletics would get access to county, state and federal funds dedicated towards Vocational training programs

 

The responses from MCPS to our request to making robotics a sport were the following

  • If we do this for robotics we need to do this for theater and other activities
    • Our response, that because MCPS wants to make every student STEM literate that this aligns to their goals, while the other activities you mentioned do not.  Also, we are looking for inter school play, much of the arts and other clubs are not set up to be competitive.
  • Well than why not make math club a sport
    • Our response, that is a great idea, and in time math club could be ready to take that step.  However, currently, the only STEM sport that has the participation, structure and logistical support at every level of  k-12 is robotics.  That is why we are recommending robotics as the first STEM program to be classified as a sport, to see if it has the desired effects on STEM diversity and participation.  If robotics does have an over all positive impact on STEM participation in the county, than we can look for other STEM sports to add to the athletics department.
  • No other state has classified robotics as a sport and sports need to include some level of athletic activity
    • Our response, in Michigan, the state made robotics a state level activity comparable to sports.  The state and local school districts changed their level of support for robotics to match that normally reserved for athletics.  The result was an explosion of robotics teams and kids participating in after school STEM activities.  That is what we want to duplicate here.  In addition, if you look at the motivation behind corollary sports in the county, MCPS tried to find competitive activities that are coed and can be played by students with all manor of disabilities.  We think this would be a great addition to the corollary sports list on the county.  Lastly, you talked about the need for athletic activity to be considered a sport. We believe robotics has more than enough physical activity to exceed that found in all of the corollary sports as well as all of the same stressors you might fin in the last 2 minutes of a football game.
  •  Couldn’t this be some other type of club?  Maybe something that is like a sport but not a sport?
    • Our response, would MCPS be willing to set something like that up?
      • MCPS’s response, we will look into it.

 

Over all the conversation went well, but we were not able to get specifics on how MCPS could declare robotics a sport, or sport equivalent.  We were reassured by the new superintendents words on the KoJo show earlier that day, where he said he wants robotics in every school in the county.  We also learned that he likes data, so here is a good amount of data how much of an impact robotics has on students. http://team1389.com/we-need-to-be-the-change-we-want-to-see/

A few actions for MCPS;

  • Let us know when we can see the plan for getting robotics into every school in the county
  • Let us know how we can help make that plan real
  • Let us know how much funding you would need to make the plan real

 

 

Big Day Yesterday

Speaking of Walt Whitman, we were able to present our amazing Principal Dr. Goodwin with our two Excellence in Engineering Award sponsored by Delphi.  We earned one, at each of our two district events.

IMG_1352 IMG_1350

Thanks to all of the people within the Walt Whitman Community who helped us make this year’s team a success.; Janitors, security, building maintenance, teachers, principals, alumni, the sports boosters and the Walt Whitman High School Foundation.  All of your collective effort made this year possible and we can’t thank you enough.  Please know that we appreciate your time and efforts more than you know and that it is lifting our team’s potential with every moment you take to step in and join us in pursuing our dreams.

 

Last night we also finished our crate at 10:30 pm.  From start to finish 6 hours to build, not to bad for our first crate.  Thanks to Walt Whitman High School for letting us stay late to get that finished.

IMG_1346

 

Double bonus, it looks like all of the planning and logistics prep for World Championships is nearly complete. We have found two great bus mates; FRC Team 1712 and FRC Team 4242,  have locked in our hotels and travel itineraries, and figured out all of our extra curriculars. It also looks like we have all of our spares ordered, our lifter arm is coming along nicely. The lifter arm should be ready to test on Saturday, fingers crossed.  We are ready for what ever next week brings and can’ wait to find out what we are going to learn.

 

 

CAD & CAM

CAD or Computer Aided Design is one of the most critical things your team can do to become more successful. CAD enables your team to be more efficient and effective with the limited time and financial resources of FRC. CAD at its roots does two things; captures design intent and communicates design intent, thus the more you CAD the more you communicate. Conceptual CAD should be completed within 5 days of kickoff. Prototype CAD should be completed within 7 days of kickoff. Final CAD should be completed within 10 days of kickoff. This rigorous schedule pushes teams to do most of their thinking up front so that they leave as little of their robot design up to chance. When doing CAD teams should think about the following at the following stages;

Conceptual CAD

  • What are the goals / requirements
    • Repairability
    • Ease of assembly
    • Game functions that need to be completed by the robot
    • Game functions that we want to be completed by the robot
    • Game functions that would be nice if the robot could complete
    • Rules
  • Game pieces are modeled and interacted with
  • Field is modeled and interacted with
  • Major structural components are modeled
  • Keep modeling time to under 2 hours per concept

2015 concept1concept 2 image 3

Prototype CAD

  • What are the teams limitations
    • Time
    • Cost
    • Detail part fabrication capability of the team’s students
    • Tools available to the team for fabrication
  • What are the ranges of motion of your mechanisms
  • What are the major and minor assemblies
  • Where will the electronics go
    • Use cubes to represent
  • Where will the pneumatics go
    • Use cubes to represent
  • What is the Master axis system for the robot
  • What are the materials you know you are going to need and can order before detail design is finished

Concept 3 image 4Concept 3 image 4Concept 3 image 1

Final CAD

  • What are the Free Body Diagrams (FBD) for your robot
  • What are the parts you are going to use for every aspect of the robot
    • Who is the supplier
    • Are the parts legal and available
    • How is every part going to be fabricated or sourced
    • What are the materials
  • What is the assembly order for the robot
    • Where are the payoffs
  • What fasteners are used at every joint
  • What gears or sprockets will be used for every mechanism
  • What mechanical transfer mediums are being used
    • What are the belt sizes
    • What are the number of chain links
    • How will they be tensioned
  • Does the math of your mechanisms work with the parts selected
  • What is the weight of the robot
  • Where is the Center of Gravity (CG)
  • Where will every electronic component go
    • Is the batter easily removable
    • Where will the wires go
    • Are the status light easily view able
  • Is the drive system easily repairable
  • Are major mechanisms easily repairable
  • Where will every pneumatic components go
    • Is the full range of motion possible
    • Do you need mechanical stops
  • Do we violate any rules
  • Does it meet all of the teams need level requirements
  • All of the assemblies and detail parts are labeled

Team1389-2015_field-12 Team1389-2015_electrical-1 Team1389-2015_field-13

 

Teams have a large variety of CAD software available to them, for free through FIRST; Autodesk and Solid works are the two most popular. Please see FIRST’s CAD webpage for the details on how to download the software for free. Once you have the software you will need to learn how to use it. Check out these tutorials to learn the basics.

 

Once you know the basics you are ready to learn about how to model detail parts and simple assemblies. But FRC robots can be made out of more than 200 parts and 300 fasteners. When modeling at this scale we recommend that you learn some more of the advanced ways of thinking about CAD;

  • Model based definition
    • This is thinking in terms of models as opposed to drawings.
  • Relational Design
    • This is thinking in terms of how the final assembly, relates to major assemblies, which relate to minor assemblies and how they all relate to detail parts, multi use assemblies and multi use parts
  • Parametric design
    • This is thinking in terms of CAD efficiency
  • Be strategic and minimize what you have to model
    • This is thinking in terms of reuse and reduction of total CAD effort
      • adTown CAD Library – FRC Team 1323, MadTown Robotics
      • 3D Content Central – Host an enormous variety of free CAD models including all components of the FIRST Kit of Parts
      • Autodesk FIRSTbase – Where all Autodesk submissions are made, voted on, and archived. FIRST teams can also download Professional licenses of Autodesk software for free here once registered
  • Product Data Management (PDM)
    • This is how you store CAD data, versions and metadata
    • We use GrabCAD
  • Design for Manufacturability (DFMA)
    • This is thinking in terms of tolerances, tooling, assembly order and payoffs
    • GD&T or FT&A are big parts of DFMA

 

After you finish you robot you will need to purchase or fabricate all of the items on your Bill of Materials (BOM). You may have planned to fabricate several of the parts by hand, making parts by hand is defiantly one way to go, but you need to understand the limitations of this fabrication method often include large tolerance issues for many FRC teams. Tolerances issues translate into assembly slop that could result in misalignment of major structural components or significant amounts of inconsistency when performing tasks. So instead we recommend using parts that are made using Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) techniques. There are many CAM options available to teams;

  • CNC routing
  • CNC lathe
  • CNC laser
  • CNC welding
  • CNC water jet
  • 3D prining

 

CNC stands for Computer Numerical Control and 3D printing is a euphemism for additive manufacturing techniques. Both of these types of machines allow teams to focus on making the data that the CNC machine will need to turn raw materials into the parts that you designed. For many machines the team will need to post process the CAD data to make the commands for specific machine they are going to use to fabricate the part. Each CNC or 3D vendor will identify what the post processor software the team will need to use. For CNC routers for example teams will need to identify the x,y,z, zero point, bit size, rpm, cutting paths etc.. so that the part is fabricated correctly once it is placed in the machine. The same type of forethought is needed for 3D printers, where will the machine start to print, will it print just the exterior or fill in in the interior, does it need supports to avoid deformation during printing, etc…

 

The Team is just starting its grab cad and is making all of our CAD available here

There are numerous other teams who also make their CAD available

We Had a Great Meeting With the School Board on Monday

On Monday October 19th Walt Whitman joined over 30 students from 4 other Montgoemry County Robotics teams to meet with two members of the Montgomery County School board. We talked about FIRST robotics in the county and how they School Board could join our team in making robotics louder.  The team’s were focused on educating the school board and discussing some things the school board could do to hep teams in the county be more successful.

  • Help us change CUPF policies to remove $3,500+ costs per team
  • Help us ensure School Business Managers purchasing policies are streamlined for robotics
  • Help us purchase and maintain tools and secure space in our schools

The teams showed the above presentation and did FRC and FTC robot demos for 3 school board members;

  • Student Member: Eric Guerci
  • District 2: Rebecca Smondrowski
  • At-Large: Jill Ortman-Fouse

After the presentation, we discussed each of the three asks we had in great detail and the school board made some recommendations for the teams to take back with them on work on.

  • Follow up with your school about dual use time to reduce costs
  • Discuss with your school business manager the purchasing policy that is used for athletics and try to get a similar waiver for robotics
  • Get in touch with your school’s administrator in charge of maintenance and file a request to repair school tools
  • Contact the county council to discuss budget for STEM activities
  • Contact the School Superintendent about policies regarding tools

We were also fortunate to have some school officials in attendance:

  • Principal: Damon Monteleone
  • Assistant Principal: Mark Brown

The Richard Montgomery Principal made some great points that really helped move the conversation along.

  • He talked about how RM is able to provide a lot of dual use time to his teams
    • Offered up Richard Montgomery as a working location to other teams
  • He talked about the price per student playing varsity basketball vs playing robotics. It looks like robotics is cheaper
    • Really liked the tag line a sport for the mind
  • He talked about how RM provides sports and theater greater flexibility around spending and how that could be extended to robotics
  • He talked about a warehouse that could be used to replace broken tools
    • The school board talked about getting the team’s an inventory of the warehouse so that they could take advantage of what is in there

Teams in attendance:

  • FRC 449: The Blair Robot Project, Silver Spring
  • FRC 1389: The Body Electric, Bethesda
  • FRC 4099: Falcons FIRST, Poolesville
  • FTC 5421: RM’d and Dangerous, Rockville

After the 120 minute conversation and demo the teams tasked the school board with a few things they could do to help us work on the three asks above.

  • Check on getting robotics teams a debit cards
  • Get robotics teams an inventory of the MCPS storage ware house
  • Work with budget ombudsman’s to create a guidance document for school business managers to work with robotics teams
  • Connect team’s to possible sponsor discussed at the meeting
  • How and where is the teacher stipend money spent

 

 Thanks for your time Montgomery County School Board. We can’t wait to see what we accomplish!!

 

 

School Board Meeting on the 19th

The FIRST Robotics team’s of Montgomery County MD. are working to make FIRST robotics a bigger part of the Montgomery County School Board’s plan to tackle STEM.  Next week we will be meeting at Richard Montgomery High School Rm 336 at 4 pm.

Dubbed a varsity Sport for the Mind, FIRST Robotics Competitions combines the excitement of sport with the rigors of science and technology. It’s the only school sport where all members may turn pro if they choose. Teams of 6 or more students (ages 8-18/grades k-12) are challenged to build and program a robot to perform prescribed tasks against a field of competitors, raise funds, design a team “brand,” hone teamwork skills.  It’s as close to real-world business and engineering as a student can get.

Teams compete with their robots as family and friends cheer from the stands at over 3000 events worldwide – all leading up to the 2016 FIRST Championship at the Edward Jones Dome, April 27-30 in St. Louis.

Every FIRST team in the county is invited to attend. We are going to be asking the School Board to join our team’s and;

  • Help us change CUPF policies to remove $3,500 plus costs per team
  • Help us ensure School Business Managers purchasing policies are streamlined for robotics
  • Help us purchase  / maintain tools and secure space in our schools

FIRST is broken down into 4 levels;

As you move from Jr FLL to FRC the complexity and team size increases.  Here are rough estimates of the number of students involved in Montgomery County at each team level.

Montgomery County Average # of students per team Mo Co Students
FRC 7 50 350
FTC 20 12 240
FLL 58 9 522
Jr FLL 13 6 78
Total 1202

Here is some information to give you a sense of how big FIRST is in Montgomery County is compared to Maryland and the rest of the world.

Montgomery County Maryland World % of MD Teams % of World teams
FRC 7 52 3351 13% 0.2%
FTC 20 86 3454 23% 0.6%
FLL 58 355 9999 16% 0.6%
Jr FLL 13 75 2286 17% 0.6%

Here are all of the teams in Montgomery County by team level.

9-12th grade – FRC

  • FRC 449: The Blair Robot Project, Silver Spring
  • FRC 1389: The Body Electric, Bethesda
  • FRC 3283: 3283 Coyote Robotix, Clarksburg
  • FRC 4099: Falcons FIRST, Poolesville
  • FRC 4638: Jagbots, Germantown
  • FRC 5115: Knight Riders, Silver Spring
  • FRC 5269: Sonic Sci-borgs, Silver Spring

7-12th grade – FTC

  • FTC 2897: Grizzl-E, Owings Mills
  • FTC 4452: Wolverines, Gaithersburg
  • FTC 5421: RM’d and Dangerous, Rockville
  • FTC 6406: First Tech Coyotes, Clarksburg
  • FTC 6417: Blu Cru, Rockville
  • FTC 6484: Robo-Barons, Bethesda
  • FTC 7201: Hoya Robotics, North Bethesda
  • FTC 7540: Bullbots, Potomac
  • FTC 7628: CHS ROBOTIXS 2015, Clarksburg
  • FTC 8121: RMageddon, Rockville
  • FTC 8143: Jagged Edge, Germantown
  • FTC 8521: Hard-Hitting Hardware Hooligans, Gaithersburg
  • FTC 8735: McLean Mustangs, Potomac
  • FTC 8854: Hoya Robotics 2, Bethesda
  • FTC 8855: Hoya Robotics3, Bethesda
  • FTC 9406: Supa Hawt Pink Cru, Rockville
  • FTC 9794: Wizards.exe, Rockville
  • FTC 9799: IngeNerds, Gaithersburg
  • FTC 10078: EngiNerds, Clarksburg
  • FTC 10286: Powered By Pumpkin Bread, Bethesda

4-6th grade – FLL

  • FLL 145: Blue Bots, Silver Spring
  • FLL 161: AchiEV3rs, Rockville
  • FLL 668: The Dragonbots, Bethesda
  • FLL 1012: SQUAD, Rockville
  • FLL 1175: ProbeMasters, North Potomac
  • FLL 1519: The Rob0gons, Bethesda
  • FLL 1718: St. Mary’s Mustangs, Rockville
  • FLL 3327: Flying Monkeys, Gaithersburg
  • FLL 3686: OwlBots, Bethesda
  • FLL 3689: Green Machine, Bethesda
  • FLL 4492: Seven Wonders, Rockville
  • FLL 4651: McLean Mustangs, Potomac
  • FLL 5709: Organized Kaos, Rockville
  • FLL 6067: Silver Bullets, Silver Spring
  • FLL 7045: Robot’s Fury, Bethesda
  • FLL 7593: Rock-botics, Rockville
  • FLL 7774: TechTeam, Rockville
  • FLL 8417: Team Vortex, Boyds
  • FLL 8857: Gear Masters, Germantown
  • FLL 8860: Technobots, Germantown
  • FLL 9773: Rest in Pieces, Brookeville
  • FLL 9845: Go Lego, Boyds
  • FLL 10103: RoboBears, Bethesda
  • FLL 10466: Dynabrix, Rockvile
  • FLL 11294: Team TechTonics, Potomac
  • FLL 11390: Techno Turtle Bots, Clarksburg
  • FLL 12282: Cookie Monsters, Potomac
  • FLL 12803: Construction Learning, Potomac
  • FLL 13146: Terminators, Germantown
  • FLL 14631: J2ELCKA Fembots, Germantown
  • FLL 15500: TurboTech, Germantown
  • FLL 15703: Rexcats, Potomac
  • FLL 15908: Mustachio Pistachio, Germantown
  • FLL 16094: THE MIND STORMERS, North Potomac
  • FLL 16105: RoboGirls, Boyds
  • FLL 16221: TIGErS, Potomac
  • FLL 17102: Cy-Bots, Rockville
  • FLL 17458: BeestBots, Sandy Spring
  • FLL 17830: Brick Bros, Rockville
  • FLL 17839: Xtreme Teknowlogy, Potomac
  • FLL 18250: The Hitch Hackers, Potomac
  • FLL 18544: HOC Robotics Club, Silver Spring
  • FLL 18779: The Awesome Rocking Stars, Rockville
  • FLL 18934: Frostbots, Rockville
  • FLL 18944: SKS, North Potomac
  • FLL 19059: Wood Mustangs, Rockville
  • FLL 19265: St E’s, Potomac
  • FLL 19352: Burning Tree Elementary, Bethesda
  • FLL 19466: apparatus viveret, Germantown
  • FLL 19517: Westland Wildcats, Bethesda
  • FLL 19951: Not SQUAD, Rockville
  • FLL 19965: Trash Terminators, Potomac
  • FLL 20047: Westland Wildcats 2, Bethesda
  • FLL 20180: The Silver Spring Singularity, Silver Spring
  • FLL 20957: Roaring Robots, Rockville
  • FLL 20958: Trash Trekker United, Rockville
  • FLL 21839: The Lady Bots, Bethesda
  • FLL 22144: Ric3, Clarksburg

k-3rd grade – Jr FLL

  • Jr FLL 356: Lego Buds, Rockville
  • Jr FLL 837: Lego Monster, Boyds
  • Jr FLL 1013: Friendly Together Builders, Brookeville
  • Jr FLL 1354: 4-H RainBots, Gaithersburg
  • Jr FLL 3150: Awesome Lego Builders, Germantown
  • Jr FLL 3583: novus mentis, Rockville
  • Jr FLL 4082: TITANS, Rockville
  • Jr FLL 4338: LittleFallsLego, Bethesda
  • Jr FLL 4565: Green Lego Go Girls, Gaithersburg
  • Jr FLL 5144: Olney Elementary Dragons Team 1, Olney
  • Jr FLL 5423: Lego Boyds, Boyds
  • Jr FLL 5529: Olney Elementary Dragons Team 2, Olney
  • Jr FLL 5645: Team, Boyds

This year we presented the school with some Robot Bling

The team took home a Quality Award and an Industrial Design award this season. these are the first awards the team has ever won. So this is the first time we have had the opportunity to present the school our trophies.  Last Thursday the team presented Dr. Goodwin with the two awards that they won, one at each tournament, and he told them that he was so proud of the team and what leaders they are becoming.

photo(2) photo(1) photo

As a bonus, one of our students, John Ballock, and teacher mentor Daniel Chen, represent Team 1389 and Walt Whitman well in this video that aired on MCPS TV!

Thanks for all of the support this year!!!

Now to start working on hosting an FRC district event at Walt Whitman.

 

We Need more STEM educational resources at every level

http://www.dailytech.com/US+Government+Still+Unsure+What+to+do+About+STEM+Jobs/article22279c.htm

Obama administration still trying to drum up support for STEM fields
The demand for researchers in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields remains a major problem for U.S. companies. President Obama seems unsure how to get more U.S. students interested in career fields that are expected to significantly grow over the next few years.