NRG 2018: A Successful Fourth Season

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.

NRG Liftoff!

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.

NRG 2018-19 Game Animation: NRG Liftoff!

Summer 2018: Parades and Maker Faires and Game Development, Oh My!

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.

Code Red’s Robotics Summer Camp Gets Kids Excited About STEM

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.

Students are ready to load code onto their robots
Time for drive practice to play Pyramid Puzzle

FRC 2018 Season: A Season to Remember

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.

2018 was Code Red’s first season with a swerve drive robot.

Code Red’s 2018 Theme: Off the Charts

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.

Code Red’s Chairman’s Presentation Team: Tryston, Annika, and Luke