WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT
ROBOTIC STEM PROGRAM
RoboThinkers is a youth robotics program that participates in an international program called FIRST Lego League. Also known as FLL, FIRST LEGO League is a STEM program for students ages 9-14 and is designed to get kids excited about science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). One of the main takeaways of the program is for every student to remember and use what they have learned for many years to come.
RoboThinkers is a free after-school program provided by Young Thinkers of York and is the only city-wide competitive FLL team in York City. Our practices are held at 7 E. Market Street, Suite 201 in downtown York. We practice two days a week during the season and once a week during offseason. The season starts during the first week of August when FIRST LEGO releases the new challenge for the season. During the season, RoboThinkers will have the opportunity to compete in 3 scrimmages (York, Downingtown, and Lancaster) and 1 regional tournament (Reading).
The FLL challenge consists of 4 parts: core values, project, robot design, and robot games.
Core values are all about how we work together as a team. RoboThinkers embrace the 8 FLL core values to make teamwork fun, display friendly competition, and show respect to our other team members, coaches and mentors, and other competing teams. The core values are:
1. Discovery: We explore new skills and ideas.
2. Innovation: We use creativity and persistence to solve problems.
3. Impact: We apply what we learn to improve our world.
4. Inclusion: We respect each other and embrace our differences.
5. Teamwork: We are stronger when we work together.
6. Fun: We enjoy and celebrate what we do!
Each year, FIRST LEGO introduces a new theme which relates to the project challenge. The project allows RoboThinkers to brainstorm on a solution to a real-world problem based on the challenge guidelines. By learning about the topic and identifying a problem, RoboThinkers can collaborate on creating a new solution or simply modifying an existing one. This year, we have to create a solution to a problem within the human water cycle. We are creating a solution for people in poor third world nations to easily transport clean water back to their community.
Our robot is also judged on its mechanical design and the strategy RoboThinkers use to complete the field missions. We have 5 minutes to explain to the judges about the components that make up the robot. This includes the different motors, sensors, and special features implemented on the robot. During this time we also have an opportunity to run one or two missions to demonstrate how the robot performs. We also discuss with the judges about the overall team’s strategy for robot games. We do this by explaining how and why we chose to do certain missions.
Part of the FIRST LEGO challenge announcement every August includes the release of the new field missions and mat. RoboThinkers use engineering and math concepts to design, build, and program an autonomous robot to score points by completing various mission tasks on the playing field. The missions require our robot to navigate around the mission mat to collect, deliver, or cause something to happen. The goal is to score as many points as possible within the match’s 2.5 minutes time frame.