2010 Essay

Kicking it Up

Greater Rochester Robotics (GRR) Team 340 has our head in the game. From rigorous conditioning in the off season, to focused strategy after kick off, our team works together to better our community and pass on the message of FIRST.

Our Team

Based out of Churchville NY, GRR is comprised of players from four different schools across the Rochester area. Our mentors come from a variety of backgrounds allowing us to learn new skills. Our mentors coach with expertise and patience which is evident by our two Regional Woodie Flowers Award winners. The team captains are also an integral part of our team.

Our student captains hold positions varying from President to sub-team leader, ensuring GRR students remain a key element in team decisions. Bausch & Lomb acts as our manager, supporting us financially which allows us to concentrate on FIRST’s core values.

Our home field, Churchville-Chili High School (CCHS) supplies us with a spacious workshop to build our robot. All of the hard work our student members show is recognized with internship credit for being involved with FIRST. A section of our district’s website is dedicated to our team where the community can learn more about our program.

A major strength of our team lies within the multiple strategies we employ to communicate. We keep track of the whole group’s progress through frequent sub-team reports. In addition to emails, forum posts and a team calendar, we have installed an efficient text messaging system to relay new plays. This year, we restructured GRR, encompassing new sub-teams during off-season. The fundraising, events, operations and communication groups allow GRR to effectively plan and execute activities during the summer. Such communication has allowed us to reach a new level of progress within our team.

We employ unique fundraising techniques that involve the community by allowing them to meet our team and learn about the fundamentals of FIRST. Local businesses support us by donating items and sponsoring our events. Running beyond our biannual bottle and can drives, we gained our community’s support by starting four new annual fundraisers that are fun and creative. We teamed up with the Churchville Lions Club, who helped us run our Chicken BBQ.  At our Wii™ bowling tournament, we set up a virtual bowling alley, complete with 10 “lanes”. We hosted a Golf Tournament that received even more support from our community and local companies. At our Punkin’ Chunkin’ Competition, we challenged teams to design and build a catapult to shoot pumpkins.  We are already looking forward to hosting these events next year.

2-4-6-8 Who do we appreciate?

With the constant support from our community, GRR never fails to follow-through and give back. Contributing over 4000 hours in the past three years, we have been able to start new programs as well as continue to help existing organizations.

When a need arises, GRR never backs down from the challenge. This winter, Team 340 organized “Jug War” competitions throughout the Churchville-Chili school district. In just three days, the 5th and 6th grade classes collected change, raising $1700 to benefit the Golisano Children’s Hospital. The following month, we held a similar competition in the high school during spirit week and collected $400 to support Haiti relief.

In honor of one of our mentors, an active member of the community who passed away, we organized an Applebee’s Pancake Breakfast to benefit his family. We connected with his son’s Boy Scout troop, varsity volleyball team and the Music Boosters program to help execute the event. We were able to raise just under $1900.

In an effort to promote literacy and education in our area, we donated 15 crates of children’s books to Reach Out and Read, Starlight Pediatrics, Crestwood Children’s Center, and the Golisano Children’s Hospital.  We are also in the process of starting a reading program at our elementary schools.

Our team spent a weekend volunteering at the National Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society’s Get-Away Weekend, for families of those affected by MS. From set-up to clean-up, we stayed overnight to help campers, serve dinners, and demonstrate robots from the various levels of FIRST.

GRR is always willing to go the extra mile, and works closely with other organizations to help them to the best of our ability. To raise funds for cancer awareness, we organized a 5K with the Churchville Lions Club. We cooked 150 dinners at our chicken BBQ for the Open Door Mission. Annually, we assist the Ronald McDonald House, Foodlink and Red-Cross Blood Drives. We also revisited the Senior Day at the Beach, the Wegman’s Supper Club, and bell ringing for the Salvation Army. Other organizations we continuously support include Relay for Life and local soup kitchens.

To keep our fields green, Team 340 reduces, reuses and recycles. We recycle valuable materials by reusing parts donated by the community and utilizing past robot mechanisms in demonstration robots. In the past year alone, we have recycled over 1300 lbs of aluminum collected from scrap robot parts and cans.

Due to GRR’s dedication to these community service projects, our team has received the President’s Volunteer Service Award from the White House.  In the last two years we have had 20 students receive individual President Volunteer Service Certificates, each donating over 100 hours of his/her time in a single year.

Passing it on

Team GRR has always scored when it comes to finding creative methods of spreading FIRST. We have again expanded our fan base to larger and more diverse audiences. GRR routinely displays our robot and team to younger children, students and adults from all areas of our community. Thousands of people have seen our robot at the New York State Fair, Strong National Museum of Play, Imagine@RIT, and the Great Family Expo. In addition to returning to elementary and high schools, fairs and parades, Team 340 presents FIRST at local hospitals, scout meetings, conferences, and summer camps. For the second consecutive year, our team hosted an FLL summer camp that impacted kids from all over the greater Rochester area, even attracting one student from Virginia. In honor of Take Your Child to Work Day, we brought our demo robot and print materials to Bausch & Lomb to illustrate the fun of technology.

GRR utilizes the media to reach a broader audience. We continue to contact local newspapers, news stations and periodicals who often publish stories, news segments and pictures featuring our team; some of which include WHAM 13 TV news, the Democrat and Chronicle, the Messenger Post News and The Genesee Valley Parent magazine.

As our mentors and alumni play a major role in running and volunteering for the Finger Lakes Regional (FLR), we have taken large strides to promote the event. Every year, Team 340 sends invitations to all levels of government ranging from our school principal and superintendent to county, state and national officials. This year, to expand on Dean’s homework, the members of our team sported promotional t-shirts and created posters to advertise FLR. The posters hang at museums, restaurants, businesses, libraries and schools.

Recently, our team attained a new level of innovative recognition within our area. Team 340 t-shirts permanently hang on display at local Applebees and Buffalo Wild Wings restaurants alongside a Yankees jersey and Rochester Institute of Technology memorabilia.

Knowing the Sport

Team 340 is constantly helping other FIRST teams to raise the level of competition. We understand the value of Coopertition™ and make it our personal mission to share our resources and talent to assist others.

GRR has been involved with enriching the FLL program in the Rochester area. This year, we held NXT clinics to teach coaches about the competition and robot programming. This was our third year hosting a FLL qualifying event where every member of GRR volunteered to ensure its success. In the past 3 years, we sponsored 8 FLL teams and mentored 20.

GRR is excited about the partnerships between FIRST and The Girl Scouts of USA and 4-H. To recognize these partnerships, we created, mentored and coached the first Girl Scouts of Western New York FLL team, encouraging and challenging girls to take part in engineering. At our qualifier, we provided patches for FIRST Girl Scouts. We also worked with the 4-H Extension Resource Educator and discussed starting a 4-H FIRST team.

Our team believes that community service, fundraising and spreading FIRST are important goals for teams to score during the off-season, therefore we are creating webisodes on YouTube to teach other groups how to start and maintain these crucial fundamentals. We hosted a welding class for teams from the Rochester area to ready them for build season. During build season, we offer guidance and supplies to numerous teams including several from Israel as well as many local teams.

Our tactics of helping other teams have earned us leadership roles among the FIRST community. In 2008, FIRST chose GRR as the only beta test team in NY. We used our resources and spent countless hours debugging the new FRC controllers. To teach teams about the new control system, we held seminars and traveled 7 hours to New York City to ensure that teams would be prepared for the upcoming season. Team 340 has been a President’s Circle Team for the previous two years and participated in a national fundraising brainstorming session to share ideas with other FRC teams.

We started a GRR Facebook group to reconnect with alumni. More than a dozen GRR alumni have mentored over 10 FRC teams across the country. One third of our team mentors are team alumni.


Team 340 develops our relationships with our sponsor, school, and community to attain our ever increasing aims. We drive to the goal 52 weeks a year, and focus our efforts towards the benefit of FIRST and the community at large. GRR understands that if we keep moving forward, we will reach our goals and score.