On November 1st, our team held a scrimmage at Staples High School. As the event was early in the season, our intention for the scrimmage was to help rookie teams so that they could have a drivable, working robot by the end of the day. Our other goal was to fundraise money to support FIRST Lego League (FLL) in Haiti.
We started off the day with opening remarks by Coach Sauer. He spoke about the importance of safety, gracious professionalism, and promoting and supporting FIRST. After the remarks, it was straight to work! Members of i²robotics went around to help teams in whatever way we could. Rather than give the teams the answers to their respective problems, i²robotics members asked questions to try to guide others to getting solutions by themselves. We also had some Boy Scouts come in to learn about robotics and FIRST. One of our own, Alex Davis, is a long-time Boy Scout and he had a great time talking to and teaching the young Boy Scouts about robotics!
After this hard work, all the teams had a lunch break where we ate delicious Joe’s Pizza. The pizza wasn’t the only treat, though. We were lucky enough to listen to a talk by Smiths Detection scientist, Mike Frunzi, PhD. Dr. Frunzi talked about a technology he developed to detect hazardous materials with a laser that measures radiation. i²robotics alum Jun Pritsker developed a robot (SmithsBot) over the summer when he had an internship at Smiths Detection. SmithsBot carries Dr. Frunzi’s device, and thus ensures that the hazmat team will not have to go too close to the potentially dangerous material and can instead detect if the material is dangerous at a comfortable distance. Luke demoed SmithsBot, equipped with two cameras, to the whole crowd. It was awesome to see a robot in use in a real-world scenario!
As the day dwindled down, we started to get teams on the field to practice driving their robots. At the start of the day, there was only one team that had a drivable robot, but by the end there were six teams that had a working robot. The matches provided great experience and showed all the teams the strengths of their robot, and what aspects of their robot still needed improvement.
Although the scrimmage was to help rookie teams, it was also a fundraiser for First Lego League (FLL) in Haiti. Prior to the devastating 2010 earthquake, Haiti had a thriving FLL program for middle school students. After the earthquake, funding in Haiti for FLL dried up, and there hasn’t been a tournament in three years. Now, Haiti’s FLL program is returning. This season, 72 students are developing technology skills and know-how by building robots and conducting research into the problems of education in the 21st century. i²robotics therefore thought it was incredibly important to help these Haitian students in their quest to become the engineers of the future.
Throughout the day we sold delicious concessions, generously donated by Starbucks, the Fresh Market, and Stew Leonard’s. All the profits from the concessions went to FLL in Haiti, and all the proceeds from the whole event went to FLL in Haiti as well. In the end, we raised over $700 at the event, and an additional $1,000 from outside donations. It felt great to know that we were making a difference in the lives of Haitian students.
Overall, the scrimmage was a huge success! We helped teams learn, and we learned as well! It was a safe, productive, and fun event. I even heard a person remark that they had learned more today than they had in two months. And, most importantly, we raised a lot of money for FLL in Haiti!