NRG Season Two Builds on Last Year’s Success and Gives FRC Students an Opportunity to Design and Lead

The Fall of 2016 ushered in our second season of NRG, a robotics program for elementary designed by our own high school team #2771. Students in grades 4-6 participated along with a parent to build their own Arduino robot, add modifications to that robot to play a game, and compete in a tournament with their robot. The season culminated in a competition held on October 22, 2016 complete with qualification matches, a tournament, and awards.

Code Red students started the process of preparing for the 2016 season by designing a new game during the summer for the 4th-6th grade students to play in the fall. This being the second year of NRG, Team 2771 students designed a completely different game from that of the first season so that returning students had new challenges to face and skills to learn. It began with two game concepts proposed by two groups of students. From there, the team discussed the pluses and minuses of each game concept, from field set up, to points earning, to game pieces. Ultimately, the team decided to take features from each game concept to create this year’s game: S.O.S. Synergy. Finally, students created the field elements to play the game, wrote a game manual, planned NRG team meetings, and we were ready for the season to begin.

The season started in September, and we had 23 students along with their parents in the build space, a full house! For each meeting, students played a teamwork or problem solving game, made progress on building their robot and its modifications, and filled in an Engineering Notebook.   As the season progressed, students practiced driving their robots and played practice matches. Students who wished to compete for the Engineering Notebook Award presented their notebook to a panel of judges (high school students and a mentor).

On October 22, students and their families gathered at Byron Center High School for the competition. Students played in several qualification matches followed up with a tournament to determine the winning alliance. The event ended with an award ceremony that included awards for the winners, most creative robot, best Engineering Notebook, and Teamwork.

Another sign of success for NRG was when another West Michigan team, #2767, Stryke Force, contacted Code Red about starting their own NRG program. We met with the Stryke Force mentors and shared the program with them (Arduino robot source, how we develop a game, how we run the program, program resources, tournament information, etc.) so that they could run NRG. As a result, Stryke Force successfully started an NRG program. Overall, NRG 2016 was a great experience both for the 4th-6th grade students and for the high school students and mentors.