There is an Education Workshow This Weekend

Every year the Washington Chinese Daily News and McDonald’s team up to co-sponsor an Education Workshop to better prepare students for college and success.   This year they are focusing on Robotics and have invited several of the Montgomery County Robotics programs to participate.  The Walt Whitman Robotics Team will be doing some community outreach and demonstrations and inviting anyone who want to learn more about STEM sports to stop by.

Sunday at 10 AM – 4 PM at R ichard Montgomery High School
250 Richard Montgomery Dr, Rockville, Maryland 20852

You can find more event details here https://www.facebook.com/events/1102757229770012/

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We Want To Build an Advanced Fabrication Training Facility for MCPS

Over the past decade MCPS like other school districts across the US has been dismantling shop rooms as schools focus more on testing and college prep.  However, the need to for experienced advanced fabricators is growing.  Communities across the US are starting to feel the impact of this skills gap and are working with private industry to create a pipeline of people with the knowledge they need to make things.  Just today, GE purchased two of the world’s leading metal additive manufacturing companies and announced thei need to grow domestic manufacturing capacity.   (both of these companies were in Europe)  It is for this reason the Walt Whitman Robotics team plans to upgrade the Walt Whitman High School  shop room with new equipment. and start and advanced fabrication program.  The goal will be to teach 50+ kids a year how to do CAD design,  CAM design, additive manufacturing, circuit board printing, advanced CNC manufacturing and how to use a variety of industrial lasers.  This will be open to students at every level and STEM sports teams across the county.

The program will do much more than showing kids how to use a vinyl cutter.  We want to teach students that their ideas can be transformed into marketable commodities. One example from similar program in California;

 “They designed really cool ornaments for the holidays and we sold more than a thousand dollars’ worth of stuff. We just put together a coaster set for a local microbrewery. We’ve got a tremendous community of artistic people and small businesses that I’m sure would be willing to do what the brewery did. The kids have to go to the business and make the pitch and figure out what the cost would be by doing an analysis of material and time and all the other costs. I’m talking with a finance teacher we have to set this up as a business class on student enterprise, with real outcomes.” http://time.com/3849501/why-schools-need-to-bring-back-shop-class/

We are going to be looking for community donated materials, equipment, cash, and expertise to get this program off the ground.  If you are interested in helping build the next generation, please reach out admin@team1389.com, we can use all the help we can get.

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

 

 

2017 District Schedule, We are Hosting Again

We are once again hosting an FRC district event during the 2017 FRC season. Wooo Hooo!!!  This will be the second year that the team hosts the event and we are really looking forward to it.  However, the organization that ran the events last year in Maryland is now defunct and responsibilities have been transferred over to Chesapeake FIRST.  With this shift comes a new way of managing events that will require more work form the host teams.  To help keep this burden as low as possible we are going to try and share responsibility for planning the event with Team 1111 who is hosting a week 4 event.  More on this to come.

  • Week 1
    • Mar 3-5, 2017 FIRST Chesapeake District Northern Virginia Event (Battlefield High
      School, Haymarket, VA)
    • Mar 3-5, 2017 FIRST Chesapeake District Southwest Virginia Event (Blacksburg High
      School, Blacksburg, VA)
  • Week 2
    • Mar 10-12, 2017 FIRST Chesapeake District Greater DC Event (Walt Whitman High
      School, Bethesda, MD)

      • We will be hosting and attending this event
  • Week 3
    • Mar 17-19, 2017 FIRST Chesapeake District Northern Maryland Event (The McDonogh
      School, Owings Mill, MD)
    • Mar 17-19, 2017 FIRST Chesapeake District Hampton Roads Event (Churchland High
      School, Portsmouth, VA)
  • Week 4
    • Mar 24-26, 2017 FIRST Chesapeake District Central Maryland Event (South River
      High School, Edgewater, MD)

      • We plan on attending this event
    • March TBD FIRST Chesapeake District Central Virginia Event
  • Week 6
    • Apr 5-8, 2017 FIRST Chesapeake District Championship (VCU Siegel Center, Richmond,
      VA)

      • We plan on attending this event
      • We will need to qualify for this event
  • Week 8
    • Apr 24-29, 2017 FIRST World Championship (St Louis Conference Center, St Louis,
      MO)

      • We plan on attending this event
      • We will need to qualify for this event

Please mark your calendars now, so that you can be sure nothing interferes with these events.

Have you filled in your paper work yet???

 

Welcome back Robotics Families!

I hope that everyone had a wonderful summer and I cannot believe that the
start of school is only days away..

Robotics is going to get started and there are many events that the team
has coming up, before build season begins.

There will be more information to come, but for now, please find the
attached paperwork that must be completed before any student can
participate with the team (this includes working in the lab or being able
to attend events).

The attachments include;

welcome letter
member sign-up form
student/parent contract
medical liability waiver
emergency medical card
checklist

All forms must be returned *no later* than Friday, September 9th (details
are in the attached welcome letter).

If you have any questions, please let me know.

There will be another email forthcoming with opportunities for
volunteering!

We look forward to a great year!

Best!

Farish Perlman
Team 1389
Team Coordinator

MoCo Advocacy 2016 Day 2

Students from Richard Montgomery High School and Walt Whitman High School met with Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett last Tuesday to learn what his position was on robotics in Montgomery county.  The meeting went very well, not only did Mr. Leggett voice support for growing robotics in the county, but he also told us about his experience visiting the Walt Whitman FRC District Event.  He was blown away by the size of the robots and the number of people attending the event. We talked about the need to expand robotics into more schools and the need to bring more diversity to STEM programs in the county.

On top of the great support, Mr. Leggett also volunteered to join our students when we meet with Larry Hogan in August to help push for making robotics a state level sport.

 

MoCo Advocacy 2016 Day 1

Today students and mentors from several of the robotics teams from Montgomery County were in Rockille to talk to our county leaders about recognizing robotics as a sport.  We started the day talking to George Leventhal and his staffer Waltin Harris. Mr. Leventhal has been very supportive in the past, and has even driven Liftzilla, our 2015 robot.  He heard our idea of declaring robotics sport in Montgomery county and was immediately behind the idea.  He even offered to ask a question of the new superintendent DR. Jack Smith to see what his opinion might be on the topic.

From there we attended a meeting with the MoCo Board of education, the County Council and the new superintendent to learn more about his plans for the school district.  It was a very enlightening meeting and allowed us to get a better idea of some of the passions that drive county council members and the new superintendent. Of particular note was when Mr Leventhal asked about growing robotics in the county and getting is classified as a sport, the new superintendent agreed with both aspects of his question and asked back, “how do we get robotics in to all 204 Mo Co schools.”  Needles to say we are delighted with his answer, and have contacted Andrew Zuckerman (MCPS Chief Operating Officer) and Dr. William Beattie (MCPS athletic director) to figure out the details. You can read more about the meeting in the Bethesda Beat.

In the afternoon we shifted from asking how MCPS could make robotics a sport to some of the logistics that need to happen. We met with Crystal Ruiz from Council Member Hans Riemer’s office who gave us a lot of things to think about.  We decided to do a referendum declaring robotics a sport in Montgomery county would be a good first step.  We are going to work with all of the offices to get the final wording as quickly as possible because the county council session ends on the 2nd. We also decided to follow up with a few very specific people inside the county to ensure this moves forward as quickly as possible.

Next we met with County Council staffer for Tom Hucker, Matt Verghese, who played Bot Ball for several years in High School and was extremely supportive of the idea of making Robotics a sport in the county.  His boss, Mr. Hucker is also a big fan and wants to work with us to help grow robotics in his district.  Matt was also very disappointing to hear that robotics teams are charged CUPF fees for using the buildings.  He wants to help teams get the CUPF polices changed so that Blair High School stops charging their robotics teams and can use those funds on growing STEM instead.  Matt also asked us to look into if chess is considered a sport by MoCo.  He was part of an effort to get chess classified as a sport in college that ended in success.  So he knew a good bit about the ask we were making.

Last we met with Councilman Robert Berliner and his staffer Zac Trupp.  Mr. Berliner has been a big supporter, and even came to the Walt Whitman District event we hosted.  Mr. Berliner played devils advocate to our idea or having MoCo declare robotics a sport by asking us why not consider debate a sport.  We responded with what does the county want to celebrate and develop.  Does the county want more debaters, or does the county want more STEM students?  The answer to this question is important since we are asking the county to change the way it does things and bring a fresh perspective to the way we define sports.  Not unlike the new perspective the County Council is looking for in Dr. Smith.  We also went on to inform him that being classified a sports comes along with some very specific program changes that would remove some serious impediments schools run into when looking to start new teams.

  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. 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

Tomorrow the teams meet with County Executive Ike Leggett to discuss making robotics a sport and funding a community grant to help this new new sport get started inside the county.

 

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Thanks to Mr. Leventhal for the photos.

Kid Museum Outreach Last Weekend

Students from Blair High School joined us at the Kid Museum last weekend to help grow awareness for robotics in the county.  Not only did we find some future Bethesda robot builders in the crowd, but we helped some New Yorkers learn about robotics as well.   Our students also inspired some amazing VexIQ creations that two of our students will spends the next few weeks teaching Kid Museum visitors how to program.

Students from both Blair and Walt Whitman went through a presentation and then we turned on the Indiana Robotics Invitational so that everyone could watch some real matches being played.   Thanks to the Kid Museum for giving the opportunity and good luck this year with your brand new FLL team.

Check out some of the pictures and videos from the event.

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Time to Register for Robotics

Are you going to be on the Walt Whitman Robotics team starting Fall 2016?  If you are, please start your registration now.   To register, go to www.firstinspires.org and log in or register a new account and then sign up for FRC team 1389.

FIRST has opened up student registration early this year and we are encouraging students / parents to take advantage of this opportunity to avoid some paperwork in the fall.   This is open to all returning and new students.

Kickoff is

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Robotics Day at the Kid Museum

Walt Whitman will join 3 other FRC teams from the area and help the local Kid’s Museum host their first Robotics Day. Stop by with your kids, your neighbors kids and your inner kid to check us out. We will have several team members on hand as well as our World Championship  Level robot Maelstrom available for you to drive.

Saturday, July 16

From the nuts & bolts of how robots move, to testing out competition robots…it’s everything robots at KID’s first ever Robotics Day!

Open Explore
Stop in throughout the day to experiment with gears, parts and pulleys; take part in “Imagining the Robots of the Future;” and learn about different machines and systems, like VEX, LittleBits, and Arduino.

Featured Workshops
LEGO WeDo: Move and manipulate objects with this robotics tool. Design your own interactive machine using gears, motors, motion sensors, and more. Ages 8+. $6 members; $7 nonmembers. 11:00 REGISTER

MakerWear: Customize clothing with lights and sounds that react to your movements, and be a part of the University of Maryland’s Human-Computer Interaction Lab MakerWear prototyping project. Ages 6+. $3 members; $4 nonmembers. 1:30 REGISTER

Demos
See amazing demos by local high school FRC robotics teams:

Team 1389 
Walt Whitman High School
Bethesda, MD

Team 449
Blair High School
Silver Spring, MD