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If you are a parent of an Edwardsville Robotics student, we invite you to participate as much as you'd like. If you're willing to help out, please let us know.
The rest of this page provides some high-level information about FRC, our goals for the team, and specifics about how we communicate.
FIRST Robotic Competition (FRC) information
You can learn a lot about FRC at their website, http://www.usfirst.org/roboticsprograms/frc. There are videos and information about the competition, the valuable skills the students can learn, and even scholarships.
The busiest time for the team will be during the competition season. Teams get the competition rules and parts in the first week in January and spend about 6 weeks designing and building their competition robot. Then the robot gets sealed and bagged for a few weeks when the competitions start. There are a variety of competitions, but we'll start out 2014 with the regional competition. Winning teams then advance, ultimately to the worldwide finals, held here in St. Louis in March. Generally, the students and mentors are very busy during this time.
Our goal for the team is to inspire your students to become more involved in science, technology and engineering, and have a lot of fun doing it. We strive to foster self-confidence, communication, leadership, and other skills and qualities they will be able to use for the rest of their lives.
One way we try to achieve this is by creating an environment very much like a technology company or startup, and to have the students do as much of the work as possible. That includes designing, building, wiring and programming the robots, but it also includes administration, creating and maintaining the team's brand, accounting, finance and fundraising, outreach to the community via the web and social media, working with sponsors and partners, etc. In fact, the students decide how they want to organize the team and distribute the work. Of course our mentors are here to guide and help the students.
Our team is a rookie team, so there is a lot to learn even before the competition season starts. We try to meet at least once a week (currently Wednesday evenings) to bring the students together to work on their tasks. When possible, we also meet at other times convenient for most of the team.
Starting January 3, 2015, we'll meet regularly in the Jay Hoffman Center building at the N.O. Nelson Campus in Edwardsville. It's part of the Lewis and Clark Community College, and we've created a partnership with Lewis and Clark's Corporate and Community Learning (CCL). We meet in building N4.
The team uses Google Groups to communicate with students, mentors and parents. We try to keep the volume down, but sometimes there’s a lot to discuss. Only members can read or post; we may consider opening it up more in the future.
We would like your student and at least one parent of every student to be a member of the Google Group so that they are aware of the meetings and other activities. You can ask for an invitation by sending an emailing with your name(s), address and student's name to
frc4931 at gmail.com.
When you accept the invitation, you should get to choose whether you want to receive all email or a daily digest. Otherwise, it's just like using email. Anyone in the group can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, and the message will be sent to all group members. To reply to someone else's message, simply "reply" or "reply-all" via email and include your response.
The team has a public shared calendar, and we try to keep that up-to-date with all meetings and events. You can view it online or add it to your calendar application that supports iCal by copying this link to our iCal feed:
- For Outlook, follow the instructions for subscribing.
- For Apple iCal on OS X see this tutorial -- if you are using calendar syncing with iCloud on your Mac and iOS devices, doing this on your Mac should automatically add your calendar to your iOS devices.
- For iOS devices, navigate to this page in Safari and copy the above ".ics" link. Then go to "Settings -> Mail, Contacts, Calendars -> Add Account", then select "Other -> Add Subscribed Calendar" and paste the link to the iCal feed. Finally, touch "Save".
- For other applications, follow the instructions for subscribing to an "iCal" calendar feed in your application.
BTW, we don't set a reminder on any of the events since that seems too invasive. We can revisit that decision if most people would prefer a reminder of some kind.
You’ll also hear us talk about GitHub. That’s a site we use for managing all the technical details, including tasks, code, documentation, etc. Parents are very welcome to monitor it or occasionally browse our area, but most do not since it is has a lot of details.