Two alliances of deep space travelers race to place hatch panel on their rockets and cargo ship, load valuable cargo for transport off the planet, and return to the safety of their habitat, all before the next sandstorm sweeps through.
In the Fall of 2018, Code Red’s two FTC teams, Neutrinos: Breaking the Laws of Physics (#5383) and Emergency Situation Evacuate Now (#5384), had a fun and successful season. FTC is a group of 7th & 8th graders who build a robot for a specific game. The 2018 game was called ‘Rover Ruckus’. This game was a space themed game, and it had minerals (gold and silver), a crater, and a lander (spaceship). We had to figure out how to build a robot that would be able to take the minerals from the crater, and put them into the lander. Our robot also had to be able to climb onto the lander to get an extra 50 points.
During the build season, we came up with a robot design that would allow use to park between the crater and lander, then retrieve minerals from the crater and transfer them into the lander. We also worked on our Engineering Notebook. Throughout the season, the FRC students helped us with feedback about our robot and strategy and feedback on our Engineering Notebook presentation. After lots of hard work, we had our robot ready to drive. Unfortunately we finished it right before our first competition, and had little drive practice. Sadly, we didn’t place very well at our first competition. However, we were able to try again at our second competition. For our second competition, we had had a week’s worth of drive practice, and because of that drive practice, we were able to get first place!
In addition to building the robot, we also completed an Engineering notebook that is filled with ideas about our robot, how we built it, our teams, pictures and it even information about Code Red’s sponsors. Along with the Engineering Notebook and building the robot, we also did a presentation about Code Red Robotics in front of a panel of judges about our robot, how we impact our community, and Code Red’s sponsors. In the presentation we had to describe the robot, how we built it, what troubles we had, and what we thought was unique about our robot.
After winning the Kentwood Qualifier Event, we qualified for the Michigan State Championship! At the Michigan Championship event, we experienced a few problems, but we were able to recover from them. We were selected by the 8th place team in our division, and made it to the Quarterfinals before we were eliminated. As a result of our season, we learned a lot about teamwork, Gracious Professionalism, and Robotics.
In October 2018, Code Red along with seven other West Michigan FRC teams partnered together to run a first annual robotics workshop for high school students. The event was held at Byron Center High School where 11 different workshop topics were offered. Teams from all over the state of Michigan were invited to come to the free workshops, and on Saturday, October 27, over 200 students attended from all over the state!
The workshop topics covered all aspects of FIRST robotics with sessions such as: Mock Kick-off, CAD, FRC Drive System Fundamentals, Pneumatics, Java, Scouting Data and Analysis, and Writing College and Scholarship Essays. Code Red mentors and students led the Mock Kick-off and Writing College and Scholarship Essays workshops. Two sessions were offered, so students were able to take any two workshops that interested them.
All in all, the event was a huge success and we are already planning to do it again next year. The teams involved in running the event were: 107 R.O.B.O.T.I.C.S., 1918 NC Gears, 2054 Tech Vikes, 2767 Stryke Force, 2771 Code Red Robotics the Stray Dogs, 2959 CW Tech Robotarians, 4004 M.A.R.S., and 4381 Twisted Devils. It was a pleasure to work together with all these teams to make this a comprehensive and productive event.
Once again in September and October of 2018, Code Red ran its own elementary program for 4th through 6th grade students called NRG (Next Robotics Generation). This being the 4th year of NRG, we have grown and developed the program to offer a exciting hands-on robotics experience for first, second, and even third year NRG students by offering multiple levels of the program. This year we had 25 students participate along with their parents/guardians!
As previously mentioned, NRG is Code Red’s own elementary robotics program. In this program, each student builds and competes with his/her own robot that he/she builds with the help of a parent or guardian. At the beginning of the season, a new game is introduced to all of the NRG students. This game has been designed and developed by Code Red’s FRC students. At the start of each meeting, all of the students take part in strategy sessions, team building activities, problem solving games, and engineering challenges. After that, first year students spend the 6 weeks of the season building their own Arduino robots, designing and adding a “manipulator” to that robot for game play, and practicing robot driving skills. Second and third year students took their already built robots (from previous seasons) and learned additional programming for the robot. They had an extra game challenge that involved programming their robot to autonomously navigate an obstacle course using sensors and dead reckoning.
For the 2018 season, the NRG game was NRG Liftoff! In this game, 2 alliances of 2 have crashed and are stranded in deep space. Astronauts must escape the wreckage of the ship, deliver spare parts to the engine rooms to repair the engine, start the engines, and prepare for liftoff in order to escape certain peril. To play this game, students had to navigate an obstacle course in the opening of the match, the score game pieces (spare parts) into a goal, and finally balance on a ramp in the end game. The second and third year students had the extra challenge called NRG Kerrehzee Kourse 2018 where they had to navigate a course around obstacles while following a line. The game was well received by the students which was evident in the large number who came for optional practice times each week.
At the end of the season, we held our annual tournament at Byron Center West Middle School, also run by Code Red FRC students who were in charge of set-up, scheduling matches, refereeing matches, queuing, resetting the field, judging for awards, and running matches. Students played several qualification matches with the top 16 moving on to the final tournament. After the winning alliance was determined, awards were presented to the winners of the tournament and judged awards. It was a day full of cheering, exciting game play, and lots of smiles.
As is typical for Code Red, off-season is not really off-season. We had a busy summer of activities and events that promoted FIRST and STEM in our community.
July brought us opportunities to interact with our community at the Byron Days Festival and Parade. Here we had a display set up at the festival where we demonstrated our robots, “played catch” with kids using our 2016 robot, and told festival attendees all about Code Red and FIRST programs for all ages. Sandwiched within the festival was the Byron Festival Parade, a hugely popular community parade, where our parade entry featured a float that displayed our robots, dancing music played over speakers, students and mentors handing out bookmarks with team information, and even a bubble machine.
Also in July, Code Red students met several times to develop a new game for the upcoming NRG (Next Robotics Generation) season, Code Red’s own elementary program where each student builds and modifies his/her own robot to play a game and compete in a tournament playing that game. The game is completely designed by Code Red high school students. Creating a new game involved engaging in the various tasks and processes of game development: brainstorming ideas, talking through match play, designing game elements, developing rules, simulating play, prototyping game parts, and even creating a game animation. It is an awesome opportunity for our FRC students to experience a whole different level of applying STEM skills from the game creation side different from the game playing side.
August wasn’t any less busy with final touches being put on the new NRG game and building game elements. Another major event of August was the large display Code Red sets up each year at the Grand Rapids Maker Faire, a two-day event at the Grand Rapids Public Museum. Our display offered something for all ages. We had a NRG field set up and children could drive a NRG robot to earn a Robot Driver’s License. We had a scale from the 2018 FRC game set up so as to demonstrate our 2018 swerve drive competition robot. We had a Rubik’s Cube solving robot set up, and attendees could race the robot to see who would solve a Rubik’s Cube first. And a local company set up a Jenga playing robot display for attendees to watch.
Overall, it was a busy but typical summer for Code Red.