Piedmont Post – February 2017

Posted on Feb 16, 2017

Robots are coming to Piedmont!

Building upon the success of the FIRST Tech Challenge robotics teams at Piedmont Middle School and Piedmont High School, Piedmont Makers is excited to announce new robotics teams for the Fall 2017 season.  Our goal is to form two teams for rising 4th and 5th graders and two teams for Piedmont Middle School students.

The elementary school teams will be FIRST Lego League teams. FIRST Lego League is a Lego Mindstorms-based robotics competition.  Like a sports team, FIRST Lego League teams would meet 1-2 times per week with weekend scrimmages and tournaments.  The Middle School teams will either be Lego League or FIRST Tech Challenge. FIRST Tech Challenge is a more advanced robotics competition and requires a more significant commitment.  Both the Piedmont Pioneers and Scotbotics are at this level.  Prerequisites include a keen interest and demonstrated follow through by taking school electives e.g. Maker, Artbotics, doing independent projects and after school programs.  The season would run from August to November and if the teams qualify, they would advance to California regional and national competitions in 2018.  You can learn more at www.firstinspires.org

Piedmont Makers is developing a FIRST Robotics infrastructure in Piedmont to encourage the pursuit of S.T.E.A.M. excellence.  By building the pipeline of interested girls and boys at the elementary level, we can field more diverse teams at the middle school and high schools.  The ultimate goal in two years is to start a team at the most advanced level, FIRST Robotics Competition at the high school, which will require a much bigger team and a bigger budget.  It will all add up to a comprehensive program at various age levels whereby we can develop talent, foster mentors, pool resources, host competitions and be a real contender in regional and national competitions against the best from Silicon Valley and beyond.

Another key goal is to encourage girls to participate. Despite a concerted effort at the Piedmont Middle School level, we have not been successful in recruiting girls to the existing teams.  We believe by capturing girls interest earlier at the elementary school level in a fun environment with friends, excellence and interest in S.T.E.A.M. topics among our girls will be expected and encouraged by peers.

We are working with the school district and after school providers to provide lead-in programs to teach basic skills in programming, design, mechanics and 3D Printing.  We are also currently applying for grants and sponsorships to support these teams.  With the success of current Piedmont robotics teams and the passage of Measure H1 with a specific emphasis on S.T.E.A.M. facilities, momentum is on our side in Piedmont!

Interested to learn more?  Piedmont Makers is hosting an info session on Tuesday March 7 at 7:30pm in the Beach library.  Expect registration to go live in March with teams formed by the end of the school year.  We need parent volunteers to help coach and organize teams — if you have coached youth sports and/or have a S.T.E.A.M. background, please consider volunteering.  Help continue to transform Piedmont into Makerville!