2015 Chairman’s Award essays.
Impact on Team Members
Integrity, determination, work ethic, and leadership are all characteristics Team 3930 members have developed through their participation in FIRST Robotics. FIRST has acted as a lens of clarity for those with foggy future career plans. Most alumni have pursued careers extending their FIRST experiences, such as STEM and communications. Our team has created bonds with mentors and community members that allow our students to experience real-world situations and establish life-long friendships.
Impact on Community
Team 3930 is highly publicized and is a source of local pride. Experiences with Howie’s Welding have motivated students to consider becoming future employees. Team 3930 participates in the local Apple Pumpkin Festival where we promote STEM through Bristlebots and a team-made hovercraft ride. Our 4th grade measurement day and our summer LEGO robotics camp inspires younger students to become future FRC members. We mentor LEGO League teams and volunteer at FLL state competitions.
Innovative Methods to Spread First
Our popular Zombie Car Wash promotes FIRST, as well as providing people with emergency information. We reach out to kids by helping them build robots at the Maine Mini Maker Faire and local events. We use videoconferencing to help rural schools start FLL and FRC programs. Team members use the UL SMART Safety program with third grade students. We also present our team to the Chamber of Commerce and school boards. We use numerous forms of social media for sharing the message of FIRST.
Role Model Characteristics:
In its first 3 years, SMART has won Rookie-All-Star, Judges, Engineering Inspiration, Entrepreneurship, Imagery, and multiple Safety awards. We helped three schools create rookie teams in 2013 and have expanded this to a rookie training day this fall, which we plan to continue in future years. SMART takes the lead in promoting FIRST by presenting at several state conferences and events. We are a model for how to establish FRC in a rural community with few local resources or industries.
Starting FRC Teams
As a model for small schools with limited resources, Team 3930 has presented at school board meetings for several school districts to show them how, with hard work and dedicated students and mentors, any community can support an FRC team. Within the past two years, we have done FIRST presentations to school boards and communities to help create Teams 4555, 4042, and 4564.
Assist Other Teams
In order to assist other teams, 95% of our team is first aid certified. SMART knows the importance that guidance plays in successful FIRST teams, since we had a strong mentor team ourselves. We welcome novice teams to our rookie training day in November, where we help them create and program a drive train. We have led workshops in Autodesk Inventor and kit building at events like the Maine FRC Training Day. We work with others at competitions, modeling coopertition and gracious professionalism.
Mentor Other Teams
This year Team 3930 is the mentor team to rookie teams from Searsport and Winthrop. We have shown them the process it takes for a drive train to be created and programmed and we have worked with them all season. We also show them how teamwork and communication are crucial to the competitions. Members of these teams were able to meet with our spirit team, drive team, programming team, and build team to learn all facets of FRC. This year we finally have the ability to serve as a true mentor team.
Team 3930 has several key contributors to our success. Of course, we have the Robotics Institute of Maine and Fairchild Semi-Conductor, who sponsor all Maine teams. In addition, our team is supported locally by our school district (RSU 73), Ted Berry Industrial Services, the Town of Jay, Ebay, Poland Springs, Maine Land Development Inc, Otis Ventures LLC, and Howies Welding. We worked hard to form relationships with sponsors, as our community has limited corporate and university resources.
Strength of Partnership
Team 3930 has strong partnerships with mentors, sponsors, and the community that result in success. We work with engineers from our local mill, an electrician, a carpenter, computer programmers, and teachers from our school. Our sponsors provide us with financial support and many provide us with training and opportunities to spread the FIRST message. Sponsor Ted Berry Industrial Services reached out to SMART to establish an internship program to help improve its future potential workforce.
FIRST is a global organization, developing young adults through robotics. Participants establish relationships by building not only robots but trust. Unlike other competitive sports, teams use coopertition to solve problems. FIRST is preparation for living in a technologically advanced society. FIRST coined gracious professionalism, a mantra for Team 3930. We respect and help our opponents. We believe that learning and helping others are rewards in themselves and more important than recognition.
It is important to realize that our community is one of the last in Maine you would expect to support a robust FRC team. We are a rural team and we are limited by few local businesses, industries, or universities. Our local paper mill, which used to provide 3000 jobs, now employs 800 and is financially unable to support us. Declining enrollments have caused school consolidation. What actually drives this team is the ambition of our students and mentors and our generous community.
Like a high speed locomotive, SMART (Spruce Mountain Area Robotics Team) has moved full STEAM ahead to become a full fledged FIRST program. FIRST has been shaping and molding the minds of tomorrow since 1989 and SMART has been doing so for the last four years. Our team has been focusing on STEAM (Science Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) to engage students in real world problem solving situations. Like a freight train climbing a steep hill, SMART has developed from a successful rookie team into an accomplished model program for others to emulate.
At the beginning of our climb, our train held 17 members. Our team was small, inexperienced, but full of enthusiasm and ambition. Our mentor team, 2648 Messalonskee, was able to fuel our fire and help us set down the tracks to reach the right destination. With their help and the help of a group of dedicated mentors, our team created and programmed our own robot. In our first year at competition, SMART proved to be a force to be reckoned with when we took home the Rookie All-Star Award and our team was exposed to FIRST on a national scale, attending the FRC Championship in St. Louis. Our first impact on the community came from our apple orchard clean-up day.
In our second season, the SMART locomotive began to climb uphill, adding cars of passengers to bring along for the journey. SMART began to help mentor our Middle School LEGO League and started up a youth LEGO Robotics Camp in the summer of 2012. This was the year that our team began to value the importance of safety, not only for our team, but for all of those who attend competitions. We won our first UL Safety Award. SMART had all of it’s members take a test created by our safety captain to ensure that all members understood the value of safety, how to manage equipment, and what to do if an emergency were to take place. Another innovative method we used to spread the FIRST message and safety information was our Zombie Car Wash. At this event, our members took on the role of flesh eating monsters while they washed car after car. We also passed out emergency information cards that gave natural disaster awareness information. If you can survive a zombie apocalypse, you can survive anything! SMART set up a booth at the Apple Pumpkin Festival, a community event, where we spread the ideals of FIRST. We gave children rides on our homemade hovercraft and helped them build “Bristle Bots.” These methods were also used when SMART attended the Mini-Maker Faire to spread the FIRST message as well as publicize our team. The first car we added to our train was team 4564 from Brewer. SMART helped to establish 4564 by attending one of their school board meetings and explaining how SMART was started and what is needed in order to be a successful FRC program. The Brewer School Board then provided the team with a $10,000 budget. Team 4564 was awarded the Rookie All-Star Award and went on to attend Worlds, in St. Louis, borrowing our robot crate for transport. One of our team’s most memorable moments of the 2012 year was winning the Judge’s Award at our final competition at the Pinetree Regional. The SMART locomotive’s climb uphill has progressed smoothly with the capacity for many other cars to join the journey to success.
SMART’s third season as an FRC team began in the summer of 2013. Our team grew to 36 members. We continued programs like the LEGO Robotics Summer Camp and persisted to make our presence known at our local community events. One new event that 3930 decided to create was our measurement program. Here, SMART shows all 4th graders how to measure accurately to fractions of an inch with a ruler. Then the kids applied these newly learned skills to create a key ring holder to give to their parents. Team members took advantage of internship programs developed by SMART with Howie’s Welding and Ted Berry Industrial Services. SMART also had members volunteer at the Maine LEGO League Championships to help manage the competition as well as cheer on our 4 local FLL teams. In order to strengthen the safety aspect of our team, SMART developed a “No Lift Policy.” SMART members were concerned with those at competitions who had to pick up the robot multiple times throughout the day. With our policy came the idea that a lifting mechanism should be created to limit lifting of the robot. SMART sent a letter to the FIRST national headquarters discussing our point of view and engineered a no lift cart for our robot. We also helped kick start team 4555 with a whole school assembly featuring our basketball shooting robot playing against the Harlem Rockets. We presented to the Dixfield school boards about starting an FRC Robotics team and the district then chose to start a VEX program. Our team was rewarded with awards for Imagery, Industrial Safety (at 3 events!), Entrepreneurship, and Engineering Inspiration. The SMART STEAM train kept the momentum going and picked up speed in year three.
SMART has the highest aspirations for 2015. Our team grew to 42 members, the largest number of passengers aboard the SMART locomotive and we have kept moving forward with the programs, presentations, and activities started in previous years. We had a videoconference with students from Searsport Elementary and helped them form an FLL program. We initiated a Kick-Start Day for rookie teams which we plan to continue doing every November. During this day we teach teams basic programing and wiring. The teams also build a basic drive train, which they take back with them to be able to reference and demonstrate for their community and at fundraisers. For our first Kick-Start Day we had two teams participate, Team 5471 from Winthrop and Team 5506 from Searsport. These are also rural, small town communities like us and we are a model of this type of FIRST program. Members of these teams were able to meet with our spirit team, drive team, programming team, and build team to learn all facets of FRC. We have maintained email, phone, and social media contact with the teams throughout the season and the use of electronic communication has been critical, as Searsport is over 85 miles away! Other new programs and activities for 2015 include SMART team members running the UL Smart Safety Ambassadors Program for all district 3rd grade classes. One of our team members is running this training for fellow students and children at our local technical center’s early childhood education program. We continued training team members in first aid and purchased an automated external defibrillator for our pit. At several community functions, we had a Parts and Tools Test and successful children won a nanobot as a reward. We participated in the “Mainely Spirit” preseason event for the fourth time and added the preseason “Robot Rodeo”. These events helped give new team members experience and the Robot Rodeo helped develop our programming teams skills a great deal. The SMART STEAM train is now a fully functional high speed locomotive!
Diversity has become an important part of SMART. Our team is composed of students with incredibly varied interests and talents. We have athletes, actors, environmental activists, computer gamers, math geeks, musicians, artists, community volunteers, Eagle Scouts, and fashionistas. Our team members are involved in all kinds of programs including Math Team, Drama, Envirothon, Boy and Girl Scouts, numerous sports, 4-H, Lions Club, Band, Vocal Ensemble, Rock of Ages, NHS, Jobs for Maine Graduates, Upward Bound, religious youth programs, and part time employment. To become a part of SMART, you just need to get involved! We have gifted students taking AP and college classes and special needs students with individual education plans. About 10% of our high school population is part of SMART.
SMART is not just a program for boys, in fact we are 50% female! We have girls on every one of our sub-teams, including build and programming teams. SMART is able to recruit females because they see the success of our female members in leadership positions and we promote their participation through programs like Amy Poehler’s “Smart Girls at the Party.” SMART received a $1000 grant from the Society of Women Engineers, recognizing our efforts to promote diversity. SMART also supported a local all-girls FLL team as it attended the FLL North American Championships and members of that team are now part of SMART.
We have adopted the acronym STEAM in lieu of STEM in our explanation of what we are about, as SMART believes in the importance of the arts. We have team members who design fashionable costumes, create promotional materials, choreograph dance and spirit routines, and create video productions to promote our image. We use CAD and 3-D printing as tools for expressing ideas and have alumni in colleges pursuing careers in the arts and graphic design. Team members even volunteered to drive our frisbee shooting robot as a cast member in a local production of Beauty and the Beast.
SMART actively supports a disabled team member. Bryan Riley is a freshman with muscular dystrophy who has always been an active member of the FLL program. Bryan has been an asset to our program, working on our CAD team to design parts and produce models on our 3-D printer. Bryan was one of a number of members of Team 3930 to volunteer with our FLL program and at the State FLL Competition. He created and administered the FLL “Rules Ace Test” at the FLL Championships. SMART has supported Bryan’s participation by training all of its members in disabilities awareness. His condition will worsen over time and he is in need of a robotic arm for his wheelchair. Kinova Robotics from Montreal came to our school to demonstrate a prototype of the arm Bryan is in need of and SMART was there to support Bryan and learn about this technology. His teammates and mentors have taken an active role in the fundraising needed for this very expensive piece of equipment.
It is hard to capture the essence of FIRST in just words. We will try to frame it the best we can in order for you to get the big picture. Spruce Mountain Area Robotics Team (S.M.A.R.T.) has been in existence for three years, but we’ve become a lasting image of FIRST in our community. In our rookie year we had the challenge of not only creating a team, but also creating unity between two rival schools. It was in our rookie year that we were shocked to win the Rookie All-Star Award and move on to the championship event in St. Louis. We followed suit in our second year when we entered the Chairman’s Award for the first time. Our confidence level was rising, and we were motivated to stretch our goals to win the Industrial Safety Award too. That year we took home the Judges award along with the Safety Award.
This year, with help from our business management team, we developed our team’s mission: “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.”
The relationships we have created throughout the team, the community, and the FIRST world are stronger than ever this year. The team communicates through e-mails and the S.M.A.R.T. Robotics Facebook page. We communicate to the community through a local newspaper column. It is written by team members each week, to explain meetings and upcoming events. It quickly became the key asset to our team’s exposure. This year we upped the ante with a team Facebook “like page” that gives a visual of the meetings and brings continuous updates on what the robot looks like. We presented to several other schools about FIRST and STEM education, which have resulted in interest and team recruitment. The team focuses on spreading the messages and values of FIRST in as many innovative and interesting ways as possible.
We promote FIRST when we attend our local Apple Pumpkin Festival and Maine Mini-Maker Faire. This year we taught children how to build robots out of toothbrushes and cell phone vibrators. We also reached out to other Maine school districts by demonstrating our robot at their school board meetings and other events. We got to play a game of basketball with the Harlem Rockets and were part of a local show, called the Early Evening Show, for Nerd Night. When fourth graders were having a hard time relating to measurement in math classes, we stepped up and developed a fourth-grade measurement project, taught by S.M.A.R.T students and mentors. With this hands-on project all 100 fourth-graders in the Regional School Unit built a key rack in our high school shop. This project stresses the importance of basic STEM skills and how it relates to robotics and future employment. S.M.A.R.T’s relationship with the school and community is unique; not only are we fully integrated in the school, but we are part of the school community.
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 engineering/programming (VEX robotics), alternative energy, and AP Environmental Science. These classes are direct result of our team mentors/teachers and team impact on the school community. The school has invested in Autodesk CAD 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.
S.M.A.R.T. is not a black and white team. We find that creative thinking and ingenuity build our teams character. We work hard to promote the ideals of FIRST through new and interesting methods. Our most famous team event is our annual zombie carwash. It is a local favorite and a team favorite as well. Just before Halloween we gather together in zombie garb and become the “washing dead”. It is an event for all ages, and a great way to raise money while spreading the message of safety throughout town. We pass out flyers about emergency preparedness, information on how to create your own kit, and instructions for your home safety.
We believe that one of the major messages of FIRST is safety. In our rookie year we used the Keep It Simple Stupid (K.I.S.S.) principle. In year two we broadened our scope and began the zombie carwash. We developed a team safety test to determine each individual’s readiness for pit access, and established safety rules for the build team and the spirit team. This year the team took the message even further. We had a CPR and First Aid training day with the help of our school nurse. The majority of the team participated, so 85% of the kids are now CPR and first-aid certified. We also updated the safety test to include general safety knowledge and we will be having a second safety test this season to see how the scores have improved.
This season we are aiming to take home both the Industrial Safety award and the Engineering Inspiration award. After last season’s back-breaking efforts in two regional competitions, we realized how inefficient it is to lift our robots off and on the field. It is not safe and it is impractical. This year we are proposing and modeling an idea to FIRST to create a ramp system to roll the robots on and off the field. It would allow even the smallest team members to help load the robot and would create a safer way to take care of the robots. With rule changes in the last two seasons about taking the robots off obstacles on the field, like the balance bridges in Rebound Rumble and the pyramids in Ultimate Assent, we believe that there should be a system to make it safer to remove robots from the field. Carts should all be a certain height to load onto a ramp and roll directly from cart to field, and then off the field back onto the cart.
S.M.A.R.T. has a very interesting contrast to other district teams or organizations. Our team has a lot of depth and is composed of several different types of people. FIRST is an organization that everyone can join, and we strongly encourage everyone in our school to challenge themselves with it. Since our rookie year the team has doubled in size. We have football players, cheerleaders, theater buffs and computer whizzes. This year we wanted to promote the girls on team by reaching out to Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls at the Party. There are thirteen girls on our team, which is nearly half of the robotics team. As S.M.A.R.T. girls we want to encourage girls across the nation that we can push the boundaries of what is expected.
We are proud to say that we mentored a FIRST Lego League team consisting of seven girls from the middle school. We are helping to send these FLL “SMARTies” to the national competition in San Diego. They inspire us as much as we inspire them, and we cannot wait to hear of their success in San Diego. Along with mentoring FLL teams (5) we have the privilege of mentoring other FRC teams. Last season they were extremely successful and one of the teams got to experience the St. Louis Championships after winning the Rookie All-Star Award, just as we had the year before. The foundation we create in our district FLL teams enables us to have such large FRC numbers. We hold a week-long Lego day camp in the summer for middle school kids. It gets these kids involved in FLL, which gets them involved in VEX and FRC down the road.
With almost 40 students on our team we have had to rework our team’s composition. We split our team up into five separate functioning groups. There is the spirit team, build team, programming team, business management team, and the drive team. This year we put extra subdivisions into each team. In spirit team we have a cheering team, a social media team, a video team, and a yearbook staff, along with award teams. The build team has safety team and the programmers have website designers. The drive team is working hard to incorporate stand, pit, and roaming scouts, and to improve communications with scouts. We also added a new position of team business management captains. These students work on the Entrepreneurship business plan and helped us develop our team’s mission. There are team captains for each of the five larger teams who report to each other weekly, as well as sub-captains who report to the team captains. This cooperation between teams helps strengthen our work efforts and builds better communication between students and mentors. We have a mentor for every team, and they help ensure that the captains stay focused on their jobs.
We have our eyes set on achieving greater goals. Our team has developed and strengthened throughout our three years, and we want to continue doing so. We are focused on challenging ourselves to become the best models of FIRST that we can be. With such great school and community support, we believe we have the ideas and the determination to accomplish these goals.
FIRST is about leadership, it says so in its name. FIRST robotics isn’t about who has the best
robot or who wins. It’s 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 the FIRST
community it is our job to spread the messages of FIRST, to take the information that the leaders
of FIRST teach us and share it with our community. It’s about becoming not only the next
generation of engineers, but the next generation of leaders.
To become the leaders of the next generation team 3930 Spruce Mountain Area Robotics Teams,
(S.M.A.R.T.), hold events and fundraisers that encourage others to join in on the FIRST
experience. John Quincy Adams once said, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn
more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” We make it our job to teach others that they
too can become leaders. It’s our mission to become the best examples of leaders that we can be.
In the fall of 2012, SMART started our rookie year in FRC. It was an extremely mind boggling
challenge not only to create a robot, but also to create a team. Students who attended completely
different schools and had, until now, only competed against each other, were suddenly faced with
the challenge of working together. In addition to the daunting task of building a robot for the first
time, we also had to get our name out to the community to let them know who we were and what
we were doing. We made several presentations to our school board, the area Chamber of
Commerce and other community organizations. We began a weekly, member written newspaper
column that updated the community on our progress throughout the build season. Our robotics
program was highlighted as an honorable recipient of the Maine grant “Schools that Shine” for
our innovations and creativity. Much of our success during the build season was due to having
such a wonderful mentor team help us through our rookie year. All the information that Infinite
Loop team 2648 gave us helped us to complete our very first robot.
We competed at the WPI regional in Massachusetts which was a terrific experience for everyone
who attended. It was nice to not only meet other American teams but also teams from “across the
pond” in London. Our focus for the competition was to win the Rookie All-Star award, but we
dreamed of making it into the finals of the competition. As the competition continued we saw our
dreams becoming reality as we climbed the qualifying list. By the end of the qualifying rounds
we were pleased to see that we had placed in the top ten. However, we didn’t make too far into
finals when our robot malfunctioned and caused our alliance to lose. Although upset about our
defeat in competition we were still in high hopes that we could win the Rookie All-star award. As
award after award was given the team remained on edge. The award was announced, and with an
unimaginable thrill we accepted our award. To win the Rookie All-Star award was incredible, but
it wasn’t long before we realized that with the amazing accomplishment came hard work.
In just four weeks the team needed to raise over ten thousand dollars. After already raising
money to compete at WPI it was crazy to imagine asking for more from our community. We
were determined to make it to Worlds, and it was our excitement and determination that created
such a response in donations. Every weekend we held a different fundraising event. We cleaned
up at an apple orchard, had a car wash, had a calendar raffle and finally a very successful bottle
drive. Each fundraiser made at least a thousand dollars, and although we were ecstatic about that,
we still needed more money. It was our local businesses, school district and town committees
that really helped send us to St. Louis. It was because of our community that we were able to
make it so far in our rookie year.
For our accomplishments at WPI the governor, Paul LePage, invited us to the State House. He
congratulated not only our team, but the other Maine teams that were headed to the
championship event in St. Louis. It was an honor to shake his hand and listen to him speak about
how proud he was to have such wonderful representation of Maine. It was incredible to hear
someone with such prestige tell us how proud he is.
As we were getting ready to head to championships we realized how much we had grown as a
team. In our rookie year not only were we the first members of S.M.A.R.T, but we became the
first students of Spruce Mountain High School to join in an activity without rivalry. Spruce
Mountain is a consolidated school composed of Jay and Livermore Falls high schools. The two
schools had been rivals for decades before becoming one school. S.M.A.R.T. was the first
school team that involved both schools equally. We were the leaders of a successful team, and the
community’s prized role models for consolidation. We proved to everyone that rival students,
faculty, and communities could come together and become one team.
When we reached St. Louis everything that we once thought would only be a dream became
reality. In WPI we thought we were lucky to meet a team from London, but in St. Louis we not
only got to meet teams from across the world, but we competed with some of the best. We were
so proud to represent Maine and it was an incredible way to prove that even as rookies we were
still in the running. In our division of four hundred teams we placed in the two hundred zone.
We brought home some incredible stories to tell and great ideas for this year’s 2013 season.
To pay back to the community we decided we would do more activities and entertaining events.
We tried to show everyone how much we appreciated their support, but the amount of gratitude
we have for our community is so great that it’s hard to emulate. As a team we hosted a Lego
League Summer Camp to show that even the younger kids can create awesome robots. It was a
great time teaching kids from grades five to eight how to construct Lego League robots. By the
end of the week we had a small competition between the kids and allowed them to try out our
FRC robot. The hard work that each camper put into his or her robot was extraordinary, and it
was a great way for our team to reach out and create more little engineers. We were proud to see
familiar faces from the summer camp join the Lego League team as a result of their experience
with us. To show our support for their hard work and to help out FIRST any way we can, many
of our team members volunteer at the Maine FLL championship. As mentors to the middle
school FLL teams, we continue to work with younger students to spread the FIRST message and
inspire them to continue with FRC when they get into high school.
One of the major messages of FIRST is safety. A robotics team must always be prepared for
whatever problems may arise. The team determined that it would be our job to inform others of
how to be prepared in emergency situations. No one likes listening to lectures or reading
pamphlets so it was difficult for us to figure out how to present our information about emergency
preparedness kits. We had seen the Center for Disease Control’s successful social media
campaign, Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse online. Since Halloween was right around the
corner what better way to get interest in emergency care packages and fundraising for robotics
than holding a zombie car wash. We worked with the Center for Disease Control and the Red
Cross to put together information to give to those stopping at the carwash. The team worked
through drizzle and cold temperatures to wash cars as walking dead. As cars passed we could see
various reactions, and some people truly were terrified. Ironically, our emergency preparedness
information would come in handy as Maine experienced a small earthquake the very next day, a
severe hurricane the same month and prepared many for the recent blizzard, Nemo.
Our team prides itself on our originality and community involvement. We try to get other
communities to join in on the fun that FIRST is by attending several different events to try to get
interest in local Maine schools. FIRST made a special appearance in Maine’s first Makers Faire
held in Lewiston, where we were happy to announce Maine’s first ever Maine FRC regional. Our
robot also traveled to the Maine’s Manufacturers Conference and to the Maine STEM
conference. In the process of presenting the team and its accomplishments we created interest in
three Maine towns. After speaking at several schools about FIRST we were happy to have three
more Maine teams sign up as rookies. As a team we are leading Brewer, Carabassett, and
Augusta into the thrilling robotics world.
In the past two years S.M.A.R.T. 3930 has inspired not only our team members but our
community to work together. We’ve proven that even the craziest of dreams can become reality,
that we can do much more than expected, and that we can work together to become one school.
The skills and information we’ve learned in our rookie year will be shared with future team
members, competitors, and spectators in hopes that our actions will continue to inspire others to
Rookie All Star Award Submission Form Team #3930
Spruce Mountain Area Robotics Team (SMART)
Briefly describe the impact of the FIRST program on team participants with special emphasis on 2011-2012 and the preceding 2 years.
FIRST has made a real impact on our students. Team members have seen that there are no limits to what can be accomplished through hard work and effort. They have seen what real world technology can do. As one team member said, “I have seen and learned new aspects of robotics, engineering, and programming that I never saw before and will be able to implement what I have learned later in life. Also, it is just really fun!” Our students are exploring and beginning to plan careers in engineering, computers, and technology that they may not have considered before.
Example Role Model Characteristics for other teams to emulate.
FRC has been a natural outgrowth of LEGO League and members of our FRC team participated throughout Middle School, twice representing Maine at the FIRST World Festival. In FRC this year, students served as mentors for our LEGO League program. With consolidation, our Middle School LEGO League Program has swelled to over 50 participants and our FRC team member filled critical mentoring roles. It is challenging to be a role model while being a rookie, but our team members have lived up to the ideals of gracious professionalism, giving time to help younger students learn about robotics.
Describe the impact of the FIRST Program on your team and community with special emphasis on 2011-2012 and the preceding 2 years.
Spruce Mountain High School is a new consolidated high school, formed from 2 rival schools in Jay and Livermore Falls Maine. FRC has been a significant part of the consolidation process, bringing together students, teachers, and mentors from both schools and communities. FRC has provided the opportunity for students to work together and become one school community. The towns have been plagued by the loss of manufacturing jobs and the jobs that remain are technical and require well-educated workers. FIRST has provided our young people with the opportunity to see a future in such careers.
Team’s Innovative methods to spread the FIRST message.
Team 3930 has worked diligently to spread the word about FIRST in our first year. The team has published regular robotics team updates, written by team members, in local papers. The team has made numerous presentations to groups including a regional STEM Education Conference, the local Chamber of Commerce, and our school committee. The team has created a website and a Facebook page. We created bulletin board displays about FIRST for our school campuses and our local JC Penney.
Describe the strength of your partnership with special emphasis on the 2011/2012 year and 2 preceding years.
Mentors Fred Ouellette, an engineer, Tony Flagg, an electrician, Phil Maurais, who runs a plumbing and heating business, and Steve Gettle, a forester and carpenter, have shared massive amounts of expertise. As our school has consolidated, teachers from both former schools have formed the cornerstones of our program. Sponsors include: NASA, J.C. Penney, FAT Electric, Fairchild Semiconductor, the U Maine Gear Up Program, the Oak Grove Foundation, and over 10 local businesses.
Team’s Communication Methods and Results.
The team has communicated through many forms of media, including student written newspaper articles, online videos, our web page, our Facebook page, and public presentations. We were featured by WCSHTV6 as a recipient of its Schools That Shine award. We have shared our knowledge with the students we have mentored. We have communicated with and learned so much from Team 2648-Infinite Loop Robotics from Massalonskee High School, our mentor team, without whom we would not be where we are today!
Other matters of interest to the FIRST judges, if any.
As a rookie team, we have found the challenges of FRC to be daunting. The time and effort put in by students, teachers, and mentors has been astounding. Our team has strived to live up to the ideals of gracious professionalism by spreading the word about FIRST, being role models and mentors for other students, forming partnerships in our community, and raising the aspirations of students in our newly consolidated school in harsh economic times. To these ends, we feel we have succeeded.
On March 8-10, Spruce Mountain Area Robotics Team (SMART) will be competing at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in our first FRC Regional Tournament. This tournament is one the final activities of our highly successful FRC season. FIRST Robotics in our school system started 10 years ago with FIRST LEGO League and has grown to be included in the curriculum at Spruce Mountain High School with our Robotics/Pre-engineering class. From these successes, we decided to establish an FRC team. In the Spruce Mountain School District (otherwise known as Regional School Unit 73 or RSU 73), students from grade 3-12 are involved in robotics competitions and robotics has fueled interest in engineering and learning. At after school meetings this fall, one could see fifty-five middle school students assembling LEGO bricks and reviewing their oral presentations. The LEGO League teams from RSU 73 have won 2 overall state championships and have twice attended the FIRST World Festival, in addition to other awards. These students now attend our high school. LEGO League has become so successful it led the RSU 73 schools to support the establishment a high school Robotics and Pre-Engineering class. High school students learn how to build and program a robot, construct wind turbine blades while working with experts in the field of composites technology, and to design and build various complex systems. The high school robotics program has also been successful in statewide competitions. Last year a team of students won the right to compete in the VEX Robotics World Championships and won the teamwork award at the competition. A team of students also won the Wind Blade Challenge at the University of Maine. As a result, two students from last year’s championship team are now working in the University of Maine’s Composites Lab. The best part of the Robotics Pre-engineering class is that students must work together as a team. Throughout the school year, teams of students can be found after school working out the details of the latest robot or redesigning their wind turbine blades. Most of our team members are past LEGO League participants and have taken Robotics Pre/Engineering class.
By having an FRC program, we are also trying to change the community in which we live. The communities that make up RSU 73 schools are mill towns. Two local paper mills have 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 in our community existed. 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. With FIRST we are trying to prove to the students, parents, and to the community that our students can become the next generation of highly skilled workers that can rebuild our communities. If we could increase our students’ and community’s aspirations through the FIRST Robotics Challenge, we could attract new high tech industries to our communities. This will provide a vibrant financial future for our community.
Our goal in offering FIRST Robotics as a co-curricular robotics team is to allow more students to access robotics programs. Parents and community members have taken large leadership roles from the beginning of FRC and throughout the entire build season. In our other robotics programs the parent/community involvement has been more of a supportive role.. The FIRST Robotics Challenge has been different. We may not win any event for many years to come. With FIRST, ongoing participation will be our key to our success. The school and teachers cannot run a successful FIRST Robotic team without community mentors. During this past school year various mentor and supporters have come forward to support our FRC team. During this past build season we met Tuesday nights (5pm-9pm) and all day on Saturdays (9am-4pm) and on other days as needed and students, community mentors, teachers, and parents have all made a tremendous effort. The technology education lab has never seen so much activity. During a normal build day we have three build teams (electrical, programming and system building) and one spirit team. The spirit team works on posters, banners, videos and promotional materials. They have made three large posters promoting FRC. They designed our T-shirts and have produced our videos for various presentations.
One the biggest projects for team member was mentoring and supporting our middle school LEGO League team. Senior FRC Team member Megan Labbe had this to say about her experience as a mentor: “This year I had the opportunity to work with middle school students in LEGO League. I came in on the first afternoon and I familiarized myself with the tasks that they had to perform– the challenges on the table and the Food Safety Project. I thought to myself, wow, how on earth are these students going to think of something innovative to help with food safety all on their own? Then, over the next few weeks, I was pleasantly surprised– even amazed– by how creative the teams I worked with were. I helped guide one group through the process of choosing a topic, but the ideas of each team member came instantly and everyone was willing to participate and volunteer thoughts, ideas, and knowledge. At times not everyone worked well together, but by the end they had devised a system of cooperation and teamwork, after having organized themselves according to interests and abilities. My experience in mentoring them was invaluable– I’m glad I could bear witness to the development that this project gave these students.”
As a part of commitment to promoting FIRST, we are doing a presentation at a local mall on our entire SMART Robotics program. We plan on showing all three robotic programs that we offer in hopes of getting more teams going at other schools in our area. We will be presenting LEGO League, Vex Robotics and FIRST Robotics Challenge robots and videos with hands on activities in the lobby of the mall. SMART Robotics team members presented to the Chamber of Commerce using a borrowed robot from team 2648 and showed videos from FIRST “Mentorship” and “Where Gracious Professionals Get In The Game”. The spirit team has created a promotional video for the school board. One big success has been our web page, which not only promotes FRC, but all of our robotics programs under a common team name of SMART. We also have a Facebook page that is used for communication to team members and supporters. We have a youtube channel for posting videos. FRC team members have presented at various teacher workshops. Last spring we presented at a regional STEM conference for teachers. This fall SMART Robotics won “The Schools Shine Award” from WCSH6 TV and along with a $1000 grant came a television promotion about our robotics programs.
A number of engineers, programmers, and technicians from local businesses have been serving as mentors. Phil Maurais is a former student who runs a local heating and cooling systems business and is one the most mechanically creative problem solvers we know. Fred Ouellette is mechanical engineer at the local Verso Paper mill and he has personally volunteered to work with our team. We would love to have an ongoing relationship with the paper mill itself and are in the process of planning a meeting with Verso executives. Tony Flagg, a local electrician, has worked hard with our electrical team. We have a number of parents who help mentor students. During build season, at least three to four parents have been working with us on our build days.
One of our biggest sources of help is our mentor FIRST team Infinite Loop Robotics Team 2648 from Oakland, Maine. We owe a lot to them. They have been with us from the beginning. We started with them last spring at the Beantown Blitz in Boston. We worked with them during last summer and competed with them at River Rage and Mainely Spirit (which they hosted) this fall using their practice robot. They have been helping us through out the build season. Infinite Loop’s strength’s are programming and control, while our strengths are building and fabrication, so we envision both teams helping each other for years to come. We also have two other rookie teams in our area that team 2648 is supporting. All three rookies team are supporting each other during this first year. We are in constant email communication. We have also raised money for our team with a very successful car wash and bottle drive and have received local grants and sponsors. Our school is also helping us with transportation to events and hopefully with a supply budget and some stipend money to support the ongoing program next year. We have also worked on team building activities like a marshmallow tower building challenge and potluck suppers. For the last ten years we in Jay, Livermore Falls, and Livermore have been in the process of consolidating our schools. This year we became RSU 73. As two high schools become one school of 535 students we are excited that we can offer new and exciting programs. Pre-engineering classes along with LEGO Robotics at the middle school has lead the way for new and innovative programs at our schools. Our hope as we consolidate is that we can bring the three communities together by expanding our robotics programs and FRC is a key piece to the puzzle. Timing is everything. It is the right time to make changes we have added new innovative programs to our school system.