In the fall of 2021, we celebrated the return of NRG (Next Robotics Generation), our own elementary program. To accommodate the challenges of Covid, we decided to use one of our previous year games, and further perfect our new game for the 2022 season. Twenty NRG students participated in building their own Arduino robots then adding attachments on them to play the game SOS Synergy. To add a new twist to the game from using it a previous session, we created a new opening challenge element to the game, and added complexity to the endgame.
Students came once a week for team meetings where we started with STEM games such as a catapult building challenge, and balancing a ball into a docking station using several strings held by players. They were also challenged with a problem solving game of selecting items to bring on a rescue mission on Mars. After game time, students worked on their robots and did drive practice.
At the end of the season, we held a tournament in the gym at Byron Center High School where families could watch the qualification matches and eliminations. We enjoyed a lunch break at the midpoint of the competition, and finished the day with an award ceremony. The program and tournament were largely run by FRC students with help from mentors. Their involvement each year includes creating a new game, developing the gameplay and rules, troubleshooting and addressing problems, building field components, and writing a game manual. For the tournament, FRC students coordinate field set-up, set up the game software, referee, queue robots, judge for awards, and run our own live-scoring app. Thus, NRG is not only a popular and fun program for elementary students but also is a great learning and leadership experience for Code Red’s high school students.