Code Red Robotics, an Ithaca High School student organization, is getting ready for the beginning of its six-week build season, and the start of a brand new robotics challenge. Code Red Robotics is a FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) robotics club, composed of and led by Ithaca High students, with guidance and instruction by teachers and local community mentors.
Each year, in addition to its thousands of hours of community service, Code Red members work together to create a 120 lb. robot, carefully designed and built to play a complex game against other robots. FIRST is the worldwide organization sponsoring competitions for the over 3,000 teams designing and building robots in hopes of winning regional ones and advancing to international competition.
Last year, Code Red Robotics won a regional competition in Rochester, NY, and received a $5,000 award for their dedication to furthering STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) in the Ithaca community. This qualified the team to travel to St. Louis, MO, and compete in World Championships. The Ithaca team ranked sixth in its division, and made it to division semi-finals. This was one of the most successful years in the team’s history.
In the months since last spring’s success in regional and international competitions, Code Red Robotics’ focus has been community service and outreach. Over the summer, students did numerous robot demonstrations, including at the Sciencenter and 4-H summer camps, local schools, technology events, and more. Code Red students were able to demonstrate their robot and program to the broader Ithaca community, or help by volunteering. Code Red students volunteered their time at the AIDS Ride for Life, the Cayuga Triathlon, the Ithaca Children’s Garden, the Ithaca Old House Fair, the Ithaca Childcare Center, and other Ithaca locations.
As the 2016-17 school year began, Code Red Robotics welcomed nearly 30 new students onto the team, and continued with community service and outreach. In the team’s continuing effort to make STEM fields accessible and welcoming for girls, the number of females on Code Red has increased by 10% since last year.
Code Red students will continue to do four hours of volunteering per month. Last year, this amounted to over 2,360 cumulative hours of community service for the team. In October, Code Red students helped to cut down unwanted bushes and invasive species near the Taughannock Falls State Park marina.
During a series of build nights at Ithaca High, new members were given opportunities to experience different aspects of the team, build a “kit-bot” to practice robotics skills, and learn basic machine practices and safety. New members and some veteran members attended Ra Cha Cha Ruckus on October 29. This is a mock regional competition hosted in Rochester. All teams use last year’s robot, and competed following last year’s game rules. However, given the low-stakes nature, teams encourage new members to try driving the robot while competing against other teams, and to take leading roles in fixing the robot. This helps new members understand the spirit and competition of FIRST. They can also get to know other teams. Code Red Robotics placed second in this off-season game.
The team is working hard to prepare for this year’s challenge, called FIRST Steamworks, which will be released at “Kickoff” on January 7. On this fast-approaching date, the nature of this season’s game, including robot specifications and a game manual, will be released. This marks the beginning of the six week “build season”, the timeframe in which all FIRST teams must design, prototype, build, and program their robot.
A teaser for this year’s challenge can be found here: https://youtu.be/37GBEBLfhWA
Code Red Robotics receives generous support from the community and local companies. Sponsors include Rheonix, BorgWarner Morse TEC, CBORD, BAE Systems, Cayuga Family Medicine, Cornell University College of Engineering, Cognitive TPG, Cornell Institute for Computational Sustainability, Cornell Computing and Information Science, Datapoint Labs, Tompkins Trust Company, Vector Magnetics, Wegmans, AccuFab, GORGES, Incodema, U-Haul of Ithaca, Standard PC, Ithaca City School District (ICSD), ICSD Board of Education, IHS, Ithaca Public Education Initiative (IPEI) and IthacaSTEM Advocates.
FIRST Code Red Robotics, an IHS student organization, is an associate member of Ithaca STEM Advocates, an affiliate of IPEI. IPEI is a not-for-profit organization that believes the education of every ICSD student is enhanced through community connections and support facilitated by IPEI for students and teachers through engagement, collaboration, gifts, and grants. More information about Ithaca STEM Advocates and IPEI can be found at www.ithacastem.org and www.ipei.org
For further information about FIRST, Jr. FIRST Lego League, and Code Red Robotics, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, visit team639.org, or go to firstinspires.org.