Community Outreach

Hi,

My name is Daniel, and I am a member of a rookie FRC team in NYC. We finished competing in the regionals, and we received the Rookie Inspirational Award, and one team-generated award for the most amount of food donated. We are looking to enhance our team’s efficiency and effort for the following year. As a result, we decided to think about community outreach ideas, such as: showing off the robot to the public library, etc. Can anyone PLEASE suggest any outreach ideas?

Thank You!

There is a plethora of great documentation on CD and the FIRST website. But, my reccomendation would be for your team to get together and brainstorm, as you will know your community the best. This way you can come up with creative and unique ways to give back to the community.

I had an idea not too long ago- demo at WalMart!

Demo. Essentially, show off the robot to whoever wants to see it. Community fairs, sponsors, both current and potential, libraries, schools, or anything someone else needs help doing.

Community service. As a team, do some form of community service. 1501, for example, does highway cleanup, and there are others that do this also.

FLL/FTC/VEX. Start teams at this level. It’s not that hard… unless you count keeping about 10 middle-schoolers reasonably focused on a task. You just need to find/make interested students and parents. Now you have an extra outreach arm.

Turn fundraisers into outreach. For example, do a car wash where people have the option to relax outside their cars. The relaxation area would be near some of the awards that you’ve earned, which would be conversation starters…

Speaking of awards, try to get a place to display them… with team contact info very close by.

We tend to do anything and everything we can find in our community. We demo at the local science centers, senior homes, elementary schools, parades, summer fairs, E3 Fairs, RIT’s Imagine RIT Festival, etc. Find all of your local events and see if you can get a spot at them. Many offer booths for free for groups like FIRST teams.

In terms of community service, again we go with anything we can do around us. We have packed & delivered Thanksgiving baskets, organized Soup for Superbowl, donated Turkeys at Christmas, walked for the Food Shelters and Animal Shelters, volunteered at a place that sorts medical supplies for 3rd world countries, done town cleanups, etc. We try and pick events that we can do year after year.

Most all of the ones I have mentioned above we do every year, and every year we add some. If you consistantly get it on a team calendar and consistantly get people to go and wear your team uniforms you will get noticed. Our uniform happens to include red camo pants so we stick out like crazy, but everyone knows us as “the robotics team” now, and it stands out.

Another point is to make sure you document everything you do, take photos, log the hours on your website, keep a running list of everything. We call our outreach “Thunderbolts” and have a goal of 1,511 in 10 years. It helps to track our goal and see how far we have gotten, and its a lot of fun to go back to places that recognize us and really appreciate having us help.

Good luck!

A good place to look for ideas may be Chairman’s Award entries for other teams. You can find quite a few here, including Championship winning entries from 842 (2008), 365 (2007), 67 (2005), and 103 (2003).

Might I again echo comments above and say DEMOS!! I love it when teams find ways to do outreach that really nails down the INSPIRATION and RECOGNITION part of FIRST. While soup kitchens and other activities are great for team bonding (they are actually a BLAST!) at least in my area there were enough volunteer groups doing that sort of thing. I like the teams that do outreach that gets the community excited about science and engineering. I will echo the others in that the best place to look is in CD-Media, but some just off the top of my head…

  • Volunteer for and coach FLL teams… create a pipeline to FRC! Get younger kids excited!
  • Show off your robot at an elementary school science fair… make it a yearly thing! Kids seriously get so excited about this stuff!
  • If your state has an annual Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics type summit every year, get over there! Represent your team, represent FIRST.
  • Create an education program for your school if it doesn’t already have one–and try to get it implemented! (Robotics in the classroom, etc)
  • Basically do anything and everything you can to show your community (be it your town, your state, whoever you want) your robot, any awards you’ve won, and what it is that you actually do. Host an annual open house, invite your teachers to travel with you to a competition… who knows what might work!

Just be sure to make the decisions as a team and whatever you do HAVE FUN! with it. You will have the most successful outreach if it’s something people on your team are excited about… so get excited!

-My $.02

Many universities would welcome an offer from your team to participate in their summer science and technology camps. Our team demos at several camps, as well as teaches MindStorm workshops. You should contact their department of engineering and offer to help. Have fun!

good question! our team demos at our own school to show our own students what we are all about. We have also done demos at local colleges and showed engineers there what we have done. When wall-e came out we did a demo at theaters and showed it to the little kids and their families. It depends on whats in your area and what you see in your community any local events are great to go to!

Along with doing demos, our robotics team goes to elementary schools in our district and put on fun chemistry/science experiments. Magic Sand seems to always enthrall the kids.

Our team hasn’t had the opportunity to put this to the test, but we are attempting to put together a community outreach/recycling project where we collect school supplies at the end of the year locker clean-out at school. After collection we plan to repair any damaged supplies and donate the stuff to charities. Recycling and community outreach in a convenient little package :slight_smile:

Although this opportunity just passed, it will return again next year: Space Day… http://www.spaceday.com/.

We teamed up with FRC980 and showed our robots to about 1200 elementary kids.

Here are a few pictures of the event: http://s473.photobucket.com/albums/rr94/robokong2493/2009%20space%20day/?albumview=grid

We frequently do demos for girl/boy scouts in our local area and around the state. Its also the best way to recruit parents and kids into FLL and even the more advanced young children directly into FRC.

We do a ton of demos, all of the time. We’ve had 5 demos and community service events in the 3 weeks it’s been since championship. It’s insane, and totally fun.

Talk to local organizations and organize demos. Some will come to you but most won’t, unless you’ve got deep connections. Start looking for local science and technology events and ask if they would like a robot demo.

Demoing stuff like your FRC bot is nice, but having something the public can do (drive Vex robots) is the best way to get the message of robotics out IMO. It will get the most interest, and one demo will lead to more offers for demos.

Of course, demos aren’t all you should do. Other outreach ideas would be volunteering at various events and functions, doing community service, etc. Starting an engineering summer day camp is a classic idea; have kids learn to build Vex robots! If you get interested people that are too young (get a list of names going), start an FLL team.

Basically, the possibilities are endless for outreach. Use the same ingenuity you worked for in building your robot to think of ways you can help the community as well as spread science and technology, and you’re golden.