TEAM MISSION STATEMENT
The mission of SMART Robotics is to inspire students to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) by building relationships between students, faculty, mentors, businesses and families in our community. With our programs, we are proving that our students can become the next generation of highly skilled workers that can rebuild our communities. Our success is dependent on everyone working together to achieve our goals. We strive to spread the FIRST message to other communities by mentoring new teams and promoting the FIRST ideals.
At Spruce Mountain High School we are trying to change the community in which we live. The communities that make up RSU 73 schools are mill towns. Two local paper mills had been the major employers in our communities. The last decade has seen one mill close, but the other continues as a model facility. Thirty years ago, other industries existed in our community. These companies employed students right out of high school and put them to work stitching shoes, making wool cloth, or manufacturing wooden pieces and parts. Thousands of jobs existed within a reasonable commute of our towns. These industries have closed and gone to other locations around the world. The jobs that are left are low paid or highly skilled. Student understanding of STEM concepts is fundamental to capturing those highly-skilled positions. The SMART Robotics team is designed to motivate students at Spruce Mountain Schools to challenge themselves to take on more difficult and demanding career paths.
Spruce Mountain Area Robotics Team SMART 3930 was founded by head mentor, Daniel Lemieux in Sept. 2011. Our school was in the midst of consolidation and SMART was the first team to involve students from both the Jay and Livermore Falls High Schools. Jay High School already had successful LEGO League and VEX Robotics programs, but could not support a FIRST team on its own. The consolidation doubled the size of the community represented, allowing for many more student participants and mentors. We started with 18 students and 8 mentors, growing in two years to our current size of 40 students and 17 mentors.
Money is a challenge for all teams. Our towns once thrived with industry, primarily shoe- and paper-making. With many of those resources gone, we simply don’t have a lot of businesses to support our team. Through the diligent work of Mr. Lemieux, we were able to start our team with grants from national organizations. Our community has been very generous in supporting us with individual donations, small business donations and support in our fundraising efforts. SMART is now the largest school team at Spruce Mountain High School and has become a hallmark for our new district, bringing our students and communities together.
Awards & Participation
2009 LEGO State Champions; World Festival
2011 LEGO State Champions; World Festival
2010 (14 participants) Pre-engineering/robotics classes. Competed in VEX robotics
2011 (14) VEX Robotic State Champions; VEX World Championship
2012 (20) Rookie All-star Team; FIRST World Championship
2013 (28) Safety Award; Judges Award
2014 (40) Aerial Assist
As SMART has grown over the years, it has become important to organize into six separate teams with mentors working with each team:
- Build Team, which works on the design and construction of the robot;
- Drive Team, which determines strategy and game play, and drives the robot;
- Spirit Team, which organizes the team’s media, award applications and fundraising;
- Business Team, which keeps track of funds and determines best financial practices;
- Programming Team, which works on the electrical operations and programming of the robot; and
- Safety Team, which works to promote safety in the pits, and trains members to use equipment throughout the build season.
Students decide which teams they would like to participate on, and captains are elected for each team. In order to have their competition travel costs covered by the team, students must have completed a minimum of 30 hours of fundraising work, which take place all year.
While raising money is important to the long-term success of the team, we focus our efforts on promoting STEM concepts, helping our community develop new jobs, and training to become the next generation of highly skilled workers. Our team is fully integrated into our school and organizes activities related to robotics in all schools, K-12. We have developed a partnership with the local chamber of commerce focused on re-developing our community. We write and publish articles in the local newspaper on an ongoing basis, promoting our team and FIRST principles; this helps us with recruiting future mentors and support.
Our initial foray into robotics was FIRST Lego League, which was started when our gifted-and-talented teacher was looking for way to motivate students to aspire higher and learn more about science, technology, engineering, and math. Lego League was highly successful, fueling the creation of new pre-engineering and robotics classes, VEX robotics, and eventually, SMART Robotics. The success of the pre-engineering class led to the creation of a FIRST Robotics Challenge team.
Many of our students, mentors, teachers and community members have been a part of this team for years. The relationships among our students, faculty and community partners evolved from their past relationships with Lego League and VEX robotics. We still run Lego League, as well as pre-engineering class including VEX robotics. These programs are our feeder system and training ground for FIRST Robotics.
It is because we have been successful with our innovative programs that students and parents expressed interest in the FIRST Robotic Challenge. In many ways, the idea of starting a FIRST Robotics Challenge team has come from the community. They feel a need to step up become part of our programs and help our students to aspire higher. We build our sponsor relationships with many of the same sponsors who support our FLL and VEX teams. With relationships already established, it is easier for us to keep and retain community mentor and sponsors.
DEPLOYMENT OF RESOURCES: Please detail how the resources of your team (Financial or otherwise) have been deployed to 1) Engage the community to spread the message of FIRST; 2) Inspire others to get involved so that FIRST continues to grow; 3) Ensure all team members get the most out of their FIRST experience.
We engage our community and spread the word of FIRST by our many involvements. Most of our students play sports or are involved with the Envirothon team, math team, band, and drama. One of the unintended outcomes of our robotic program is that our students have become great public speakers and writers. We publish monthly articles in our local newspaper throughout the school year. During build season we publish weekly updates. Because we have learned that students have a great impact on community members, we have encouraged our students to practice public speaking. Our team members compete annually at the Lion Club’s “Speak Out” competition; frequently, the students choose to talk about FRC. We are small school and all of our robotic students do it all, but we find ways to make our busy schedules work.
We promote FIRST with our community service projects, and help all robotics students find success through innovative, fun projects that we fund through local grants. We encourage our team members to be innovative and creative. We are well known for creative and fun community service projects. In the fall we host a zombie car wash and pumpkin carving event in which we promote emergency preparedness. We attend the local Mini-Maker Faire and build Bristlebots and put on robot demos. We annually attend the Pumpkin Festival were we do robot demos, build Bristlebots, and offer hovercraft rides (built by team). We teach measurement to all 4th grade students, by building a hands-on key rack in our high school shop. This project stresses the importance of basic STEM skills.
Since the establishment of the FRC team in our school, we have seen a growth in STEM education offerings. Our school now offers classes in engineer/programming, alternative energy, and AP Environmental Science. These classes are direct result of our team mentors/teachers and team impact on the school community. We hope to continue to see the growth of STEM-related classes and programs in our school and community. The school has invested in CAD Autodesk software and we are in the process of implementing it into our existing drafting classes.
We are seeking to create internships and partnerships with local business for robotic team members. Three companies have already approached us. Ted Berry, Inc., and Howie’s Welding are companies that sponsor our team and would like to develop internships for students. Recently, Verso Paper has shown an interest in working with the school. We have had mentors working with our team for years. We would like to see major grants written to help the community redevelop our local industries. We feel that the youth in the community can inspire community development through our team’s efforts to promote STEM and its success and modeling. We will be approaching our local Chamber of Commerce.
We would like to hold grant-writing workshops for robotics students. We will seek out teachers in our school and find a local mentor to help with the financial planning and budgeting. We would like to update our machine shop with new CNC equipment. We hope this will be part of our community redevelopment projects.
SMART Robotic Challenge Team is a co-curricular activity at Spruce Mountain High School, boasting 40 student members and 17 mentors, with 20 community sponsors supporting team.
Cost to run the team for 2014-15
|Robot parts, team cost||$1500|
|Travel to UNH hotel and bus (15 rooms, two nights)||$4000|
|Travel cost to New England event (15 rooms, three nights)||$5000|
|Total operating cost||$13,000|
|Registration fees for two regional events (Paid by RSU 73)||$5000|
|Registration fees for New England Championship (Paid by RSU 73)||$4000|
|Total cost for 2013-2014 season||$22,000|
The additional cost to attend the World ChampionshipRegistration fee (Additional) $ 5,000
|Travel for 35 students||$15,000|
|Total additional cost||$20,000|
|Robotics Institute of Maine||$2500|
|Oak Grove grant (community outreach)||$1000|
|Lego robotics summer camp||$1400|
|Zombie car wash||$550|
|Selling of models and books||$2000|
|Robot parts ( paid for by RSU #73)||$1500|
|Town of Jay||$1000|
We are the last community in Maine that should have the ability to support robust robotic program in our schools. Over the past twenty years many of our traditional manufacturing industries closed and moved to foreign countries. Most of our sponsors are small businesses or the local schools. Along with the loss of manufacturing, our declining school enrollment has had a dramatic effect on local school budgets. We still have one of the country’s largest paper mills, but it employs fewer people than it used to.
Loss of mentor-coaches, graduation of seniors and loss of talent, lost school support, and closing of the local paper mill are on the top of our threats. But with these threats we see opportunity. We are a rural community from a small mill town within a sparsely populated state, but we have found ways to be successful. Last year when the budget was cut and we lost our funds for transportation and robotic parts, the school used School Improvement Grant money to support our team. One our greatest strengths is that we are embedded in our local schools.
“Robotics is about leadership.” Robotics isn’t about who has the best robot or who wins; it is about branching out of the comfort zone. It’s about discovering yourself, making your dreams possible, and changing the lives of others. As members of our community, it is our job to spread the messages of FIRST and STEM education, to take the information that leaders teach us and share it with our community. It is about becoming not only the next generation of engineers, but the next generation of leaders