|Madison’s FIRST robotics team |
in the stands at the Battle at the Border
How do you engage young people in science, technology, engineering and math? Robotics. Students of all ages in the Clairemont community are learning about design, competition, communication, software, technology, programming and much more through robotics. Madison’s FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) robotics team The Devil Duckies (Team 1266) has had a lot to do with the success of the program in Clairemont.
The team was founded in 2004 and has continued to grow on the Madison campus. They have also helped start robotics teams at Innovation Middle School, Lindbergh Schweitzer and Whitman elementary schools. The program is not only about building robots; it provides an opportunity for students of all ages to work in teams and communicate effectively with peers to conquer challenges.
The Devil Duckies have been fortunate to win many awards including the Team Spirit, Imagery, and Engineering Inspiration awards. They also won the most prestigious award given out at a FIRST Robotics Competition, the Chairman’s Award in 2007, 2011 and 2012. This award is given to the team that best carries out the mission of FIRST and is a team that all other teams should emulate. One of the main reasons the team is so highly recognized is due to its dedicated Outreach program.
Each week, The Devil Duckies hosts or participates in different community service activities to spread the word about the team and FIRST Robotics. They help clean up beaches and parks; they collect food, clothing and school supplies for community organizations; and they conduct robot demonstrations. They also volunteer at local community shelters and events (Race for the Cure, Rock n’ Roll Marathon, Summer Science Camps, etc.) In the fall, they help run games, activities and robot demonstrations at elementary school carnivals. The team emphasizes maintaining an eco friendly environment by collecting and recycling cans and bottles at Madison.
Each competition season begins in January with the announcement of a new challenge. Each team has just six weeks to design, fabricate, build and program a robot to complete the challenge and prepare for the competition. There are 2,850 teams (71,250 students) that participate in FIRST. There are 58 competitions that are hosted around the world.
The Motorola Foundation and QUALCOMM sponsor the Devil Duckies. Their sponsorship helps with travel and competition fees. In addition, engineers from these organizations and others mentor the team. The Devil Duckies also accept donations from local businesses and community members.
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