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.
As is Code Red’s practice each summer, we offered a week long summer camp for elementary students once again in June 2018. For the last three years, Code Red’s summer camp has been based on our NRG (Next Robotics Generation) program, a 1:1 student to robot competitive robotics program designed for students working with a parent or guardian to build, modify, and compete with their own Arduino robot. At the end of the session, students keep their robots. We offer two different programs, one for first time students, and one for repeating students.
For each day of camp, we started the session with team building activities, problem-solving games, and engineering challenges. After that, first year students went about building and modifying their own robots throughout the week to prepare for playing our 2017 game, Pyramid Puzzle. Repeating students had separate sessions that taught programming basics for the robots they already had from their first years. During the week, these students learned how to program their robots to autonomously follow a line around a course. At the end of the week, Code Red FRC students ran a tournament where all the students competed with their robots. It was a fun day filled with qualification matches, a final tournament, an award ceremony (for winners of the tournament and judged awards), and a potluck.
Code Red Robotics was able to have a successful FRC season playing FIRST Power-Up. We were fortunate to be able to participate in 5 FRC Events: Plainfield, Indiana, East Kentwood, Forest Hills, the Michigan State Championship, and the Detroit World Championship. Throughout the season we had many triumphs and victories for our team. We performed very well at both East Kentwood where we finished with the title of finalist against Stryke Force, and Forest Hills where we finished as finalists against the Comets. We were very happy that we were able to perform so well despite the tough competition we were up against. At the Michigan State Championship, Code Red did very well and actually finished Qualification Matches in 1st place! After making it through all of the elimination matches we ended up losing in the Finals to the team that would go on to win the entire championship. Doing so well at the state level was really exciting for our team and it is an accomplishment that we are very proud of.
Code Red was also highly decorated with awards during this season. We received the Team Spirit award at the Plainfield, Indiana event, the Chairman’s award at the East Kentwood event, and the Quality award at the Forest Hills event. Code Red also celebrated our first student to ever win the Dean’s List award. Cymbre Scott not only won at the District Level, but she also won at the State level and was able to compete for the award at the world level and attend the Dean’s List banquet at the World Championship.
During the 2018 offseason, Code Red competed at the Indiana Robotics Invitational (IRI), West Michigan Robotics Invitational (WMRI), and also the Grand Rapids Girls competition in Wyoming, Michigan. We fought hard at IRI, but got eliminated in the semi finals. At the Grand Rapids Girls event our all girls team competed spectacularly and were the first pick of the second alliance. After a hard fought round of elimination matches, we finished as finalists. At the West Michigan Robotics Invitational, we took the opportunity that many other teams take to train our new drive team members on driving during WMRI. We had a great competition and we finished the tournament being eliminated in quarter finals.
All in all, Code Red is happy to have performed so well. 2018 will definitely be a season that is talked about for a long time.
For the 2018 season, Code Red chose the theme “Off the Charts” to highlight the personal level of service we are passionate about as a team. The theme was the driving force of our Chairman’s Award submission, but more importantly, expresses well the rewards we receive in the form of smiles, “aha moments”, “thank you’s”, and excitement for STEM when we engage with students and community members. From the 1:1 robot to child elementary robotics program we run to the robotics summer camp we offer, to the robot demonstrations we display, it is about more than numbers when it comes to what we do. This was the theme that propelled Code Red to a Chairman’s Award at the Kentwood Event!
We were thrilled and honored to highlight the impact we seek to make as a team.