By Krystin Nelligan / Dreadbot Reporter
The latest initiative from Dexter High School’s Dreadbot Robotics team is a new organization intended to promote competitive robotics opportunities for local elementary through middle school students.
Dreadbot Robotics Opportunities In Dexter (D.R.O.I.D.) is dedicated to encouraging, building and supporting FIRST Robotics teams for the younger divisions within the FIRST Robotics community.
“Creating these programs encourages more children to be interested in STEM,” said Shari Lindskov, the Dreadbot lead outreach mentor. “These teams also create a feeder program for the Dreadbots. While we were very successful at the high school level, we wanted to give younger students the same opportunity to benefit from the wonderful robotics programs specifically directed at elementary/middle school kids.”
DROID has already started to drive change in Dexter. DROID is providing support for the coaches and mentors for the younger division teams. While no engineering background is required, it still can be intimidating for new robotics volunteers to dive into, or even build a new team. Many of Dexter’s most successful robotics coaches and mentors have backgrounds in fields ranging from music to astronomy.
DROID was established in 2019 with the hope of helping to establish a single team for the 4th-6th grade FLL (FIRST LEGO League) division to replace an earlier team that disbanded a few years before. DROID seriously overshot that goal and helped to launch eight teams: three FLL teams, three FLL Jr. teams, and two FTC upper-middle school teams.
For the teams to be successful, they require many interested students to join, and just as importantly, parents willing to help out. Dexter’s high school robotics team (The Dreadbots) is offering support by providing assistance from both student and adult mentors to interested younger teams.
One of the programs started was FLL Jr. (FIRST LEGO League Jr.), for the grade level of K-3. Students build a model using Legos from supplied kits and make it move based on the year’s theme and goal. Students then create a “Show Me” poster, and travel to an Expo where they are able to present their design and poster and see what the other kids on different teams created.
The second program is for 4-6 grade kids and is called FLL (FIRST LEGO League). Kids build a LEGO robot to complete missions on their field. Contrary to FLL Jr., teams in this program compete for points and the students get to do more with testing and redesigning their robot. The competitions are judged on a five minute presentation of their research and robot, and how many points they score during competition.
When asked about the poster they were making, a first year Dexter student said, “(The poster is used) to show we came up with these ideas, we worked hard with it, and had persistence.”
The final program before the high school division is FTC (FIRST Tech Challenge) for grades 7 and 8. There are teams nationwide, but due to Michigan’s strong program, there are 95 teams in our state alone. This challenge has fully motorized robots that the students build, which are about the size of a microwave oven and have a weight limit of 42 pounds, using supplied kits.
The competitions are judged on talking to the judges, and how well the team does during competitions. The students are very excited for competitions and hope that they will win the competition, or at least do well.
The final program included in DROID is the existing FRC (FIRST Robotics Competition) team meant for grades 9-12. This robot is about the size of a washing machine and is up to 140 pounds. These robots are powered by a motorcycle battery, and use compressed air, electromagnets, motors, springs, etc. to make the robot move and perform tasks.
While there are thousands of teams worldwide, Michigan has the most with 550 teams. These competitions are judged on how well the teams do both on and off the field. While the judges talk to the students, they are looking for something special and unique to that team, it can either be electrical, business, imagery, etc.
The table below summarizes all the wonderful robotics teams currently active in Dexter, along with information on when and where you can see them compete.
|Grade||Level||Team Names||Team #||Upcoming Competitions/Expositions|
|K-3||FLL Jr.||Dexbots Junior
Dexbots Junior 2
|Teams 20025 and 20686 are competing on Nov. 16th at the Bright ‘n Brilliant Expo at Brighton High School, 7878 Brighton Road, Brighton, MI 48116
Team 19687 is competing on Dec. 7th at the Gigawatts Expo at Canton High School, 8415 N. Canton Center Rd., Canton, MI 48187
|Event 1: Nov. 16th at the Milan FLL Qualifier at Milan High School, 200 Big Red Drive, Milan, MI 48160|
*actual team name
|Event 1: Nov. 15-16th at the Howell FTC Qualifier at Parker Middle School, 400 Wright Rd, Howell, MI 48843
Event 2: Nov. 22-23rd at the Roc-Bots United FTC Qualifier at Rochester High School, 180 S. Livernois Road, Rochester Hills, MI 48307
|9-12||FRC||Dexter Dreadbots||3656||Event 1: Mar. 12-14th, 2020 at the Belleville FRC Competition at Belleville High School, 501 W Columbia Avenue, Belleville, MI 48111
Event 2: Mar. 19-21st, 2020 at the Lincoln FRC Competition at Lincoln High School, 7425 Willis Road, Ypsilanti, MI 48197
FIRST Robotics Teams in Dexter, 2019-2020 Season
If you are interested in learning more, please visit the FIRST website at firstinspires.org, or contact Shari Lindskov at DexterDROIDProgram@gmail.com. These DROIDs are looking for you!
MAIN PHOTO: FTC team members (with Dreadbot Student Mentors) are prepared and excited for their first competition. Photo by Shari Lindskov.