Gearing It Up
More than ever, Team 340 is driving towards a greater future. Greater Rochester Robotics (GRR) accelerates through 52 weeks of FIRST without taking our foot off the gas. We constantly work throughout the greater Rochester area and beyond to improve our global community and ignite a growing interest in FIRST. This year, we are gearing it up to boost the FIRST experience.
The Inner Works
On GRR, the students steer the team; from organizing events, to designing, building, and programming the robot.With two teams based in one school, students benefit from more hands on experience and opportunities to be actively involved in the FIRST program. This year we have opened our program to students from Wheatland-ChiliHigh School, who are excited to be involved in FIRST. These numerous opportunities on Team 340 allow us to grow as individuals and prepare for our future challenges. Many GRR alumni have gone into fields of engineering, science
and education, some receiving FIRST scholarships to our nation’s top schools.Such a program would not be possible without its supporting crew. The mentors act as a GPS system; guiding the students to their destination. They answer questions and throw in new ideas to get the wheels moving. Our mentors provide a variety of experiences from their careers as engineers, machinists, media specialists, educators and many more. They consist of parents, alumni, and others who have no personal or professional ties to Team 340.Our sponsor, Bausch & Lomb, provides us with the fuel we need to keep running. Their generous financial backing inspires us to “pay it forward” and support our community. Monthly updates inform our sponsor of our progress, and students present our year’s accomplishments to the board at end of the season. Our school is our garage; allotting us the necessary space we need to build both a robot and a team. The school recognizes us with library showcases, website news articles, PA system announcements, and pep rally appearances.Our continuing prominence within the district has sparked the class Introduction to Robotics.
GRR’s communication is the key to our success. Each sub team reports their accomplishments and goals at the beginning of every meeting, and the website forums provide a great way to plan ideas and make suggestions when the team itself is unable to convene. We also produce a monthly progress newsletter that is available to teammates,parents, and members of the community. Communication drives cooperation, which grants us a crucial tool for success.
Soupin’ It Up
Team 340 is “soupin’ it up” by using some new ideas to improve the area we live in. As a team, the students have given numerous hours back to the community this year. As always, Team 340 strongly believes in quality along with quantity, and this belief is present in all of our projects. As one of our new initiatives this year, Team 340 is going green. We are beginning to recycle scrap aluminum,reprocessing 440 pounds this year. We regularly recycle bottles and cans to raise money for our FLL teams and charity projects. Also, we are installing fluorescent lights in our pit to consume less energy.The organizations we work with recognize how we go the extra mile, and continually invite us to return. While bell-ringing for the Salvation Army, students hold doors and exchange friendly greetings to brighten the atmosphere. At the Kazoo Fest for Camp Good Days and Special Times, we “play” various tunes. At Churchville’s FLL Qualifier, we hand out Lego shaped gummies for the kids. Instead of just donating food to the Ronald McDonald House, we cook meals on site. We revisit many other past projects as well, such as sorting food for FoodLink, supporting the American Cancer Society with Relay for Life, and donating toys to the Golisano Children’s Hospital, Gary the Happy Pirate Toy Fund, and our school’s Executive Council Holiday Party. New organizations we are aiding this year include Operation Christmas Child, St. Peter’s Soup Kitchen, Orleans County Liberty Life Organization, and Strong Hospital. We also participated in an American Red Cross blood drive as volunteers and donors. The President’s Volunteer Service Award and the Town of Riga’s Certificate of Achievement
recognize our consistent efforts and over 300 hours of service.
We are jump starting FIRST awareness on many levels through a multitude of innovative methods. This layering of the FIRST message allows us to reach diverse audiences in a variety of ways.This year we have created a signature design to brand our image to maintain our “keep-it-simple” mantra. We feature this brand on our robot and print pieces such as bookmarks, stickers, fans, brochures, and postcards to hand out at various events to create a lasting impression on our audience and promote FIRST.On a local level, our team continues to perform robot demonstrations every chance we get. Over the past three years we have held 57 demos, 30 from this year alone. We encourage our community to interact with our team and robots in order to learn about the FIRST program. We demonstrate FIRST at all six schools in our district, the Board of Education meetings, Scout troop meetings, the local YMCA, the Tinseltown movie theater, the Rochester Museum and Science Center, and multiple town events.Reaching outside our local area, we perform demos to get other districts involved. This next level includes demos at the Monroe County School Board meeting for superintendents, Rochester Institute of Technology for teachers inProject Lead the Way training, and Penfield Elementary and Rush-Henrietta High School for interested students. Our unique projects include driving our robot in two annual parades and displaying it in the Rochester International Airport for a month this fall. These endeavors grab the attention of people of all ages and expose a vast amount of travelers to the FIRST idea.GRR has been in contact with the media long before Dean Kamen gave his homework assignment this year. Since the inception of the Democrat & Chronicle FIRST Robotics photo gallery, we upload pictures to it every meeting during build season. These photos are regularly published in the Our Towns section. Almost every week during the season, one of the local papers features Team 340. In 2006, our superintendent attended the competition and wrote an editorial that appeared in the paper the next morning. Including off-season entries, GRR’s numerous articles, pictures, and interviews all spread the word of FIRST. Annually, as the build season draws to a close, local TV stations feature GRR. In 2007, anchor Doug Emblidge of ABC channel 13 news reported on Team 340, along with our sister team 424, as the two robots scrimmaged for the first time. This year, CBS channel 8 and ABC channel 13 interviewed students to be featured on the evening news.In addition to the media layer, GRR is constantly inviting people, including local, state, and federal officials, to experience robotics for themselves. NYS Assemblywoman Susan John, Churchville Mayor Nancy Steedman andDeputy Mayor Don Suter toured our technology wing, as did Interim Superintendent Philip Langton, who had a lot of fun driving the robot himself. We also welcome the general public to come for an open house of our technology wing,consisting of a tour ending with a table of refreshments and flyers inviting them to get involved and attend the regional event. Our greatest layer expands our reach to an international audience. Team 340 has posted a variety of videos on YouTube, including past Chairman’s presentations and our President’s Circle submission. ESPN is reviewing our request that they broadcast the FIRST Championship event on their network. Last year we commissioned the UnitedStates Post Office to create a FIRST inspired stamp design, whose fate will be decided by 2009. We also designed a Wheatie’s box for General Mills consideration, portraying our students as technology heroes of our generation
Besides building new roads, we help to maintain current ones through strong inter-team relations. We never hesitate to invite teams to come and use our facilities. Naples, Charles Finney, Edison Tech, East, and Penfield High School shave all utilized our workshop, as well as our hot lunch line. We work with our sponsor to coordinate and fabricate robot signage for all Bausch & Lomb teams. We know that team relations are one of the integral parts of FIRST, and the weekend after the ship date we host a party open to all Rochester area teams to come eat and play in celebration of six weeks of hard work. We welcome out of state teams to the Finger Lakes Regional by handing out gift baskets.Even at the competition, we strive to continue the bonding by handing out peer awards and cheering for other teams as if they were our own.We are also fine tuning the future of FIRST through FLL. This year, GRR has mentored four different FLL teams. We hosted a qualifying FLL tournament in November. With the help of the University of Rochester, this event was primarily run by the students who collectively volunteered 231 hours to ensure the event ran like a well oiled machine.From refereeing to setting up the scoring system to giving a demonstration of the FRC robot, the students set a great pace for future events. To conclude the local FLL competitions, many of our members volunteered at the University of Rochester regional tournament.
Our team design for 2008 is the most remarkable thus far, exceeding the previous years’ impressive
accomplishments. Our efforts are persistently spent reaching out to others, and we strive to represent a notable model of the FIRST community. Although we have been recognized as a Chairman’s and President’s Circle team, GRR is always looking to upgrade and further spread the spirit of FIRST. Team 340 is ready to drive our generation towards future success.