In 2016 the Bomb Squad traveled across the globe to help CRC (China Robotics Competition) teams design and build robots for FIRST Stronghold.
In August, six Bomb Squad members traveled across the globe to Shanghai, China to help new international FIRST teams. We spent our time helping with workshops while experiencing a variety of culture and making new friends along the way. One of the teams we connected with the most was team 4613 the Barker Redbacks from Hornsby, NSW, Austrialia.
The Chinese teams had approximately one week to prepare for their competition. During the robotics camp, the international teams helped the Chinese teams work on their robots. Because FIRST is relatively new in China, the Chinese teams had barely started their robots beforehand. Each international team was assigned to help mentor one to three of the Chinese teams.
Before the competition, we had the opportunity to travel to the Anhui province and visit the ancient village where Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was filmed. After a terrifying cable-car ride and a strenuous hike, we arrived at our hotel at the top of the Yellow Mountains. The Huangshan mountain range provided a breathtaking and surreal experience!
Bomb Squad has spread the name of FIRST and sparked an interested for STEM education. The team visited several schools in Mountain Home sharing a program that has impacted them personally and to encourage younger kids to see the bright side of science and technology.
In May, Bomb Squad went to our local college to do a demonstration for Bugfest. Bugfest is a fun event for elementary students that involves seeing, touching, and even eating different bugs! Kids from Cotter, Flippin, and Mountain Home came with their schools to the college and we took the opportunity to share FIRST with them. The kids had a blast with Nighthawk, our 2014 robot that played in Aerial Assist. We tried our best to tell them about the programs, but we were often drowned out by excited screams when Nighthawk would shoot the giant balls, past game elements, at the crowd. We hope we sparked a sense of excitement about robotics into the young kids that attended the event.
Ecofest is a festival in Conway, Arkansas that began in 2009 with the goal to create an interactive, environmental, and educational event that allows visitors to explore the connections among environmental issues and their daily lives. In 2016, Ecofest added “Innovation Alley” and invited us to display our robots at their event. In October, we drove our 2014 and 2015 competition robots at this festival and displayed FIRST Tech Challenge and FIRST LEGO League robots to intrigue people of all ages. Nighthawk, our 2014 ball-shooting robot, worked tirelessly to shoot balls into the crowd of kids young and old! All day long, we talked to interested visitors about starting FIRST teams in Arkansas.
In the summer of 2015, Bomb Squad had the opportunity to participate in the second annual National Advocacy Conference hosted by FRC 27 Team RUSH. The NAC took place on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., where we went to all of the Senators and congressmen representing Arkansas and encouraged support for the Every Student Succeeds Act. We learned a lot about our state, and where we stand with STEM. The legislation we helped pass is now being used to divert funds to STEM programs such as FIRST. We also had the privilege of visiting the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and the Smithsonian Museum of Air and Space. It was a great experience, and we can’t wait to attend again this year!
Bomb Squad members demonstrate the 2012 Championship robot to Kindergarten students for "Bomber Fest".
Together with the EAST Initiative program at the local middle school, Bomb Squad was able to speak to 6th and 7th graders about FIRST and STEM.
The team was invited to the Discovery Tech Museum in Little Rock, Arkansas to showcase FIRST robotics. We were guest "tinkerers" and helped facilitate the Tinkering Studio by building "Scribble Bots" out of markers and recycled Materials with museum visitors