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.