With the creation of our FTC team, we decided to host a regional championship for our league. This year is the first that Florida’s FTC was run in the league system, making the regional a big undertaking for our team. Officials from FIRST and FTC attended the event and our volunteers were inspired to show them the best of the Pink Team. We worked hard from set up to take down, receiving numerous compliments about our organization, spirit, and gracious professionalism.
Our FTC team “Pink Nurple” based from Space Coast High School was the first FTC team in Brevard County. Being a rookie team made it hard to excel to the level of other veteran teams, even so, we valued the experiences we did have while working on the robot. However, FRC season began toward the end of FTC season, so we had to split time between the two competitions. Luckily, FTC had helped us prepare our mechanical, electrical, and software skills for use in FRC. Go 6323 PINK NURPLES!
Cocoa Beach, very popular among tourists, has beaches that are heavily littered. For many years now, the Pink Team has taken it upon itself to tidy up the high-traffic beaches. Beach clean-up organizations that we have partnered with include Keep Brevard Beautiful and Beach Bash. The opportunity to give back to Brevard’s environment has been very rewarding for our team.
Pink Team members had the privilege of escorting the Atlantis Space Shuttle to its resting place at NASA’s Visitor Complex. We, along with other local FIRST teams, took part in this end of the historical Space Shuttle era that embodies STEM and the Space Program. Pink Team’s robot was even a part of this monumental walk. Those who attended the Atlantic rollover came to say goodbye to the past and hello to the future, symbolically passing the torch to the FIRST teams in attendance, which embody the future of engineering and space research.
For the past three years the Pink Team has assisted the volunteers at the Cocoa Beach Air Show. We have aided them in setting up the seats and tents at the air show and assisted the public in finding their way around the beach. We had our own stand where we sold hexbugs and ran demonstrations with our robot. Overall, we did our best to make it as enjoyable an experience for the public as possible while informing passerbys of FIRST and the Pink Team.
Over the years, we have found a relationship between the number of students interested in engineering and those that are interested in the arts. Each year In Art of the Bot, we select a new topic that combines art, science and technology. Past topics from our 9 year involvement have included a haunted house (using our robots, of course), a robot rock opera (scripted, choreographed, etc by our students), Batik (a silk-screening process), 3D design, jewelry and scarf design, redesign of the pit, creation of a book, replicas of the Space Shuttle, participation in the Very Special Arts Program, and collaboration with a world renowned artist and her creation of America at Work. We spend several months producing our work and often times present them at the Cocoa Beach Art Show, communicating with the public about our team. We explain what we do, how we do it, and what FIRST is all about.
Our team, with 100’s of other artists, submitted drawings through the Astronauts Memorial Foundation in hopes of being chosen to create a model of the Space Shuttle. Our design was to decoupage all newspaper articles related to the Space Shuttle onto a black and white model of the Shuttle. We were so excited to be 1 of 12 artists chosen for this honor. Our excitement was amplified when our shuttles were auctioned off to garner the 2nd highest amount.
For many years we have created a free haunted house for the community, held in venues such as the local mall and civic center. Every year we have chosen a different theme that incorporates our robot, ranging from Robots Gone Wild to The Circus. Two different paths have always been available, one less scary for the younger children and one that is scarier, even to our adult participants. This has allowed us to have a variety of visitors and use the event as a unique method for spreading the word of FIRST to many different generations.
During winter months and spring break, many tourists choose to visit Cocoa Beach. In cooperation with the Rotary Club, the Pink Team has used a parking lot in Cocoa Beach to park cars for the myriad beachgoers. We ask only for donations and parking cars usually gives the opportunity to explain about FIRST and the robotics program to those patrons whose cars we park.
The Pink Team frequently gives back to the community via car washes. We host car washes throughout the county, focusing on our team’s cities, Rockledge and Cocoa Beach. Once again, we have an opportunity to share our passion for robotics with the community. We spread the word to customers while we wash their cars for donations.
Another community service project our team has participated in is Habitat for Humanity. In five years, we built five complete houses. We have helped both with the construction of the homes and the landscaping. Habitat for Humanity is an organization that helps those less fortunate to secure housing through service and construction. Next, they want us to build a robot to help with the painting!
For the past eight years our team has volunteered for Girls in Engineering day, partnering with the Society of Women Engineers. Girls in Engineering is a day-long event where girls in grades 4 – 8 can come and participate in activities and workshops that are influenced by STEM. There are over 400 girls that attend, served by the girls from our team who promote the idea that it’s cool to be smart. The day is inspirational, exposing the girls to a wide array of engineering fields through hands-on activities. Our robot has even made an appearance or two at the event.
The spaghetti dinner was a great opportunity for our local community to learn about FIRST and the PINK team. We combined forces with the drama group at our high school to produce a murder mystery dinner theater. The premise – a missing robot and a missing robotics mentor one day before ship date! The two groups prepared dinners, acted in the play, and interacted with the community. It was a lot of fun and a great way to spread robot awareness!
Gift wrapping was a good experience because the Pink Team members were provided an opportunity to serve the community, accepting only donations, and also answer questions about our program. This service has been ongoing every December for over ten years. The adult wrappers even asked us to build a wrapping robot! We answer their request by constructing a robot that could pick up a bow and deliver it to the wrappers. This robot, along with our Pink Team spirit, helped raise awareness for robotics and its many benefits.
The Pink Team has helped start Lego League teams all across the Brevard County Area. Not only did we help start them, we have continued to help mentor them as their team grows. It has been a beneficial program for not only the Lego League students, but has also helped develop a sense of leadership and responsibility within our own team members. The members who are a part of a Pink mentored Lego League team typically come to high school with a desire to join an FRC team. We are thus helping our community by spreading the word about robotics to our local youth.
Not only did Pink help to start Lego League teams, but we also helped initiate the State tournaments which are essential if teams want to compete and test out the skills that they have learned. By starting up tournaments, we have inspired schools all over the state to start their own Lego League teams. We continue to volunteer at the tournaments and have gotten other FRC teams involved with mentoring. Now, we have several teams that help to support these tournaments and inspire a younger generation.
Every school does an open house where they try to draw students into their school by showing off their programs. Pink makes certain that we are a part of these open houses. Often we set up boards with team information and we drive around a robot to gain attention from the younger students. We spread the message of FIRST and Pink by giving short presentations and by answering questions. These open houses help garner support, members for the team and a better understanding of FIRST to anyone that listens.
In 2011, we participated in the Cocoa Christmas Parade, displaying our robots. We had three robots, from 2006, 2009, and 2011, driving behind our mentor, Jason’s, truck. All the robots were dressed up to fit the occasion. The 2006 robot had a ball inside of it that was decorated to look like snowballs, which could be lobbed to kids for them to toss back. The crowd was awestruck as they watched the bots stroll down the street. When the opportunity arose, we spoke to the crowd about FIRST and how they could get involved through FIRST programs like FLL (First Lego League).