FAQ

1. What is FIRST?

FIRST® (For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is a non-profit organization founded by Dean Kamen to get more kids interested in Science and Technology. FIRST encourages well rounded individuals by not only encouraging Science and Technology but also encouraging community service, self-confidence, communication and leadership.

2. How Old Does My Child Have to Be to Join?

Your child can join Jr. FIRST Lego League (Jr. FLL) at age 6, once they turn 9 they can join a FIRST Lego League team until they turn 14. Once they turn 14 they may join either FIRST Robotics Competition or FIRST Tech Challenge until they graduate. For more information on all the levels of FIRST please explore our FIRST tab.

3. How Do I Start a Team?

To start your own team, please check out www.firstinspires.org to find type of team you wish to start. There are two paths:
You can click the 'learn more' button found by scrolling down slightly, then the 'Let's go' that appears after. No matter whether you choose Jr. FLLFLLFTC, or FRC, you can then scroll down and find a 'Start a [program] team' option.
Or you can click on the dropdown menu in the top left of the screen labeled 'programs', and under each program's sub-menu there should be a 'Start a Team' option. Once you click "Start A Team" a page will come up and will go over everything you need to know in order to have a successful team.

4. How is Team 340 Different Than Others?

FIRST Team 340 differs from other teams because we are a team who works year round. During the summer we continue to go to demos and do community service. We also will practice making a new robot for demos. Our team is also very connected, like a family, and all the members and mentors take care of each other. Each and every member on our team is respected and appreciated. There is also a very strong work ethic on our team, and if someone does not have a job one will be found for them. Whether it's filing metal to cleaning the loft or shop. This is also a student run team, the officers of the team are responsible individuals who were elected by the rest of the team to lead them to success.  Our team is also quite large compared to other teams, there are about 60 students and 30 mentors on our team, this ratio enables 1 on 1 time with a mentor for every student.

5. What is Your Advice for Running a Successful Team?

Our team is student run, with mentors overseeing. This is a very interesting environment, which prepares members for the real world. Every member gets a say in what the team does and every member participates. That is the key to our team, no one is sitting on the sidelines letting someone else do all the work. If your team is enthusiastic about what they are doing, then everyone wins.

6. What is Your Teams Take on Safety? 

Our team requires a very safe environment. No one is in the shop alone, they must have another student or mentor in the shop with them just in case something happens.  Members are also not allowed to use any equipment until both they and a mentor feel they are ready to use the machinery safely. Safety glasses are a must in the tech wing, there is at least one set of them in every room. Members also keep a watchful eye over each other and make sure that others are using the equipment safely so that no accidents  occur. If a member or mentor is feeling tired or upset they are not allowed to handle the machinery. Our team has also spoken and shown a safety video at the Genesee Valley Chapter of the American Society of Safety Engineers and has also been featured at Kodak Rochester as the safety tip of the week.

7. Why should I (or my child) Join a Robotics Team?

There are numerous reasons you (or your child) should join a robotics team. We (robotics teams) not only encourage growth in math and science, but becoming the best person you can be. We reach out to help others in our community and across the world. This is also a great opportunity to make friends for a life time. It is typical to think that all the kids on the robotics team are just "geeky." While we may be that, we are also very well-rounded individuals, and many of our students also participate in outside activities. For example, we have students on our team who run cross-country, track, play volleyball or other sports, we even have a competitive horseback rider on our team. The variety of people on the teams creates a real life working atmosphere and teaches people to work together with people they may not get along with outside of a working environment, and many times after working together you gain many new friends. So to summarize the main reasons you (or your child) should join: making friends, encouraging knowledge and creativity, real life work situations, and it also looks lovely on college applications.

8. What Are Past Projects You Have Done?

Our team began in 2000, and since its inception we have lead numerous projects to help the community and other teams. Our team has run 5Ks for charities, raised money for the Golisano's Children Hospital, taken other teams in when their schools closed in order for them to work on their robot, and even reached over the United States boarders to help Nicaragua with one of our FLL teams and get a school in Hamburg interested in FLL.

9. What Goes Into Building a Robot?

Every team builds their robot differently. Here in Greater Rochester Robotics we have devised a plan for entering kick-off. Our team knows walking into the Eastman theater that whatever the game is, we will not go back to our school, talk a little about a strategy, then build. We take our time on strategy, typically taking almost a week. It's not just a few people involved in developing the strategy, everyone in every sub-team is involved. In the year 2012 we typed up a sheet with every idea mentioned then each member and mentor wrote pros and cons for each idea. Everyone then voted for their favorite ideas. Based off of this vote the team will then discuss the pros and cons of the top three as a whole, and typically build a wooden prototype of the top three, then choose which design they like the best.
Once the design is chosen the sub-teams break-off, typically this is when new sub-teams are created. For example, in the year 2011 (Logomotion) our team had its own mini-bot sub-team. We decide who goes on which sub-team based on skills and personal preference. After this each team begins building their assigned part while an individual works on integration, making sure everything will come together correctly. Typically in our last week of build season we give the programmers free reign over the robot, allowing them to test their whole code-base, which allows them to figure out the best code and optimize it fully. Once all of the programming is complete we decide on our Drive Team and Pit Crew. These people will know the robot like the back of their hand, and dedicate most of their time caring for the robot at competition.
So what goes into building a robot? Lot's of teamwork, communication, and trial and error.

10. What Could I Do On the Team?

There are many things to do on our team. But ultimately it is what you feel most comfortable with. We cannot tell you where you will best be placed, that's for you to decide. Of course you could always be a floater (a person who goes sub-team to sub-team) but we have found that within the first few weeks of joining people typically find where they want to be. Once you figure out where you want to be, a job will be found for you to do. So it depends on the sub-team, but no matter where you go you will be helping in the success of the team.

11.What Are the Different Programs That FIRST offers?

FIRST® (For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) offers numerous programs starting in Kindergarten with Jr. FLL, continuing through middle school with FLL, all the way up to 12th grade with FRC (FIRST Robotics Competition) or FTC (FIRST Tech. Challenge.)

12. How Does Your Team Bond?

Our team bonds in numerous ways. We held an after party for Ruckus one year at one of our team members homes. Our team also enjoys playing laser and flashlight tag. Sometimes when we travel to regionals we will do something with just our team whether it be going to a museum or just out to eat.

13. I Keep Hearing the Term GRRLs, What is that?

GRRLs are the female population of Greater Rochester Robotics. In complete terms it is Greater Rochester Robotics Ladies. These ladies hold an annual t-shirt making party before their first competition. The fronts are identical while the backs are individual.

15. What Is Kick-Off?

Kick-Off is held the first weekend of January. On this day all the teams involved with FIRST will discover what the game of the year is. Our team holds an annual Tailgating Party before Kick-Off and then proceed to our school after we discover the game.