We’re Back!

Now that maintenance on the website is done, it is good to be back! The Daleks have had a busy preseason. We attended the off-season event, Brunswick Eruption. This is a great event to get our new members excited about FIRST and to teach them how to scout. After a long day of competition, we came in second place! The rest of preseason was dedicated to teaching the new members about the tools, building, safety, electrical work, and programming. We also continued our work with our two FLL teams. Our student mentors lead the teams, one of which went to the state competitions for the third year in a row. This year we also started two FLL Jr. teams and ran a FLL Jr. expo for teams across the state to present their creations to reviewers and other teams. We also participated in the Hunterdon County 4H Fair and Community Day where we displayed our robot and let the community interact with it. In addition to our other outreach events, we planned and held a STEM event for Girl Scouts. There were activities such as oobleck making, boat creation, VEX robot driving, and mini-robot building. On January 9th, the team gathered at RVCC, our local community college, for the unveiling of our new practice field and the game reveal. This year’s game is POWER UP, a video game themed competition where you need to collect cubes and balance it on a high-up scale or a floor-level switch. You can also collect the power cubes and put them in a portal so that the human players can put it in the power-up machine called the vault. The vault holds places for three different power-ups that can aid the alliance in different things. The Daleks are very excited for this game and to practice on our new field. We are now in build season and the Daleks are prototyping our robot, doing the starter code, working on this season’s t-shirts and writing our business plan and Chairman’s submission. The team is so excited for this build season and all the challenges that come with it!

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District Events 2017

The six weeks flew by and before the Daleks knew it, it was time for the Bridgewater-Raritan District Competition. From cheering, to Chairman’s Award presentations, to scouting, to robot tune-ups, the day was filled with fun and passed before the team realized it. We finished in 22nd place and it was time for alliance selections. We were chosen by Alliance 6 and joined Team 747 and Team 219. Together we scored the high score for the day of 360! With great teamwork we made it to the finals but lost in a difficult match against the first seed alliance. We would like to thank our alliance members for helping us get that far and for a really fun competition experience! The time for awards rolled around and we were presented with the Finalist Award and Creativity Award sponsored by Xerox for our unique climbing mechanism! We are honored to have won our first engineering award. Also, our advisor Mr. M was awarded the Donald Bowers Inspiration Award for being an individual who instills the values of FIRST within their team. We are so proud!

A week later the team hopped on a bus to the Montgomery District Event. As always the Daleks enjoyed meeting new teams and interacting with new people. Between qualification matches, the team danced and cheered in the stands. We placed 20th place, an improvement from the previous competition! At alliance selections we were chosen by Alliance 7 and joined Team 4573 and Team 4575. After two tough matches, we were eliminated in the quarter finals but had a great time! In between matches we were awarded the UL Hard Hat Safety Pin, given to the teams with the Top 3 safety programs, and the UL Pit Safety Award, elected by our peers for the safest pit at the competition. At the awards ceremony we were presented with the Imagery Award in Honor Of Jack Kamen. This award “celebrates attractiveness in engineering and outstanding visual aesthetic integration of machine and team appearance,” and we are grateful to have been given it. Another exciting moment was when Mr. M was given the Woodie Flowers Finalist Award for being an outstanding mentor who leads and inspires. Mr. M, we thank you and are eternally grateful for everything you do for this team.

The Daleks have qualified for the MAR District Championships. Hope to see you there! 

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STEAMWORKS Kickoff 2017

Kickoff is like a robotics team’s Christmas. On January 7th, the Daleks gathered close in the early hours of the morning, some still in their pajamas, for the day we’d all been waiting for. The build room was our living room, the projection screen our Christmas tree, and as for the gifts, there was only one- but one was all we wanted. The task reveal for STEAMWORKS, the FRC challenge for 2017, was only moments away. While others sang along to the music parodies other teams had submitted, a small group of members lined up for a picture with our team’s photographer. These members were responsible for the Daleks’ 2017 Safety Animation, which had just been awarded runner-up recognition for the FIRST Safety Animation Award. As congratulations went around, the lights dimmed, and the voices of the FIRST directors filled the room. After a brief introduction, the task reveal was broadcasted to the viewers. The teams would build a robot to fuel an airship through high goals, low goals, gear placement, and rope climbing. Our eyes went wide as we discovered that the human player, for the first time ever, would be a live participant in earning points during the match. Ideas flew silently back and forth across the room, our gears turning with each and every detail.

 

When the video ended, chatter broke among the crowd as members began writing, drawing, divulging their strategies to one another. The room quieted as our team leaders spoke, recounting the content of the kickoff broadcast, then issuing the game manual to the members. The following day, after studying the manuals, we would decide what abilities we wanted to bestow upon our robot for the upcoming season. The advisers discussed the schedule for the week, a short debrief was held, and then the silence dissolved into gentle whispers.
Just as the meeting closed, an ecstatic member directed our eyes to the build room’s window, and there it was: beyond the glass, a gentle but steady snowfall graced the world outside. Our robotics Christmas had been a white one, and the thought of it drew us closer, and then we smiled. All of us.

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Community Outreach

While most robots are in sleep mode post-competition season, the same can’t be said for Team 3637. When we aren’t exterminating our obstacles and challenges, we can be easily found out and about in Hunterdon County. Our most recent expeditions brought us to the 4-H Fair, Community Day, and the Hunterdon Chamber of Commerce’s Business and Home Expo.

In the midst of the August summer’s haze, The Daleks ventured out, Hexcalibur in tow, to the 4-H fair. We were given an area to set up, which we filled with a simulated match courtyard, the robot, and various informational items about the team, such as pamphlets and buttons. As people flooded in, children were beckoned towards our area, invited to play a game of catch with Hexcalibur as it showed off its maneuvers on different types of terrain. In the meantime, several members discussed the team with parents in regard to events, goals, our mission, and competitions, while others introduced the group to potential sponsors. Though the sun made us sizzle, we couldn’t have had a better time, and went home feeling satisfied all four days of the splendid event.

A few weeks later, Raritan Township Community Day rolled around, as did the Daleks , ready to present once more. The events were homologous to those of the 4-H Fair, save one small difference: the Vex robots took the place of our competition bot Hexcalibur. The Vexes, simplified to four wheels and claw, amazed our young onlookers by lifting water bottles and wheeling them about, drawing squeals of delight from the crowd. The day was a massive success, and the team loved the dose of spirit to go along with the start of the school year, as well as the season.

Thanks to the impression we made at Community Day, the team was graciously invited to Hunterdon County Chamber of Commerce’s Business and Home Expo, where we were able to represent ourselves and FIRST to local businesses present. Amidst the crowd, we arrived with our Recycle Rush robots, waving our flag proudly as they performed for people of all ages who’d gathered ‘round to see what it meant to be a part of FIRST. Our younger counterparts, the First Lego League team Fire-Breathing Ice Dragons, gave a wonderful presentation about their idea  to reduce deer-related traffic accidents, while our other FLL team, the Revolutionary Robotic Rescuers, described the dangers that poaching posed to their mascot, the Rhinoceros. The Expo was a fantastic outreach experience for both our team and the students we mentor in  FLL, with copious amounts of tasty treats that brought sweetness to the deal.

So far, we’ve kicked off our season with major success at our outreach events, which have only helped us grow closer as build time approaches. The task will surely be daunting, but you can’t sense a sliver of doubt from the ardent laughter that echoes from the build room.

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