Community Service For Chairmans Award.

Our team is having a hard time trying to figure out ways the team can both help the community and spread inspiration in engineering and technology. I know some teams do that by starting Lego and Vex teams, but money is an issue and we cannot start teams just yet. So my question is what are some ideas or what does your team do to spread FIRST and help the community at the same time?

One of the more simplier things to do is to assist the otehr teams around you, particularly rookies. The Chairman’s award is about doing what you can to strengthen the FIRST community. It doesn’t require money to simply lend tools, wise advice or a hand.

One thing to be aware of…the CA is more than community service. To me, it is engineering based community service. Anybody can go paint a fence (not to take away from standard community service) but not just anybody can teach an elementary school kid how fun science can be.

Alright, I was gonna PM these to you, but why not put them out here for everyone to see.

As you pointed out, there are a good number of things that the teams who are a bit more well off monetarily are able to do. Things like starting FLL teams, and external creations (aka, making things that have nothing to do with FRC competition) are always good, but take a good chunk of cash.

So, what’s a team to do that doesn’t have extensive resources? Well, here’s a few hints:

-Are you from a team that works with a particular school(s)? Host a Saturday afternoon science workshop. Have team members bring in odds and ends that they find around their houses, scrap metal or wood that you can find laying around somewhere, and pool it all together. Invite a local boyscout/girlscout troop or an elementry class (aka, Ms Ilovefirst’s 3rd grade class) to come in. Depending on how much you have in the way of supplies, divide the kids into a few different groups (2-3 would probably be good). Have a challenge ready for them (ex. Create something that will take a marble from this mark to that before the other team’s something does, etc, be creative!). Once they’ve been assigned this challenge, have team members work with each group, giving ideas and discussing things like making a design and what they all think would and wouldn’t work. This idea is good for a team with a lot of scraps lying around that is looking to boost interest in science in their community.

-Talk to your local mall. See if there is a day that you can invade one of the sitting areas. Bring your robot and team and run it around. Let mall passerby’s drive it around and talk about the program. Hand out any leftover buttons you may have from the last season.

-Work with a local boyscout/girlscout troop. Have each of your team members (students) take on a scout. Have an event in the preseason where you teach them about tools and the engineering occupation and they can earn a patch for it. If available, allow them to practice some of the more basic skills.

-Which TV news programs do you watch at night? Every news station has a viewer call-in number where a viewer can suggest a potential story. Ask them if they would like to do a story on your team that they can run on any day when they have a slow news day for filler (and trust me, stations are always looking for these). Entice them by reminding them that this is a feel good story about high school students doing something good.

-If nothing else, be sure to always answer cries for help. If you don’t have the resources, be able to direct a team to another team that does. If you lack in the field of finances, maybe you excel in engineering knowledge. If nothing else, exchange emails and screen names and offer guidance.

-Be sure to play on your resources. List out your team’s strengths and weaknesses. Play on those strengths. Do you have a fantastic animation team? PR great? Hold workshops for other teams in the area to attend. Don’t live in an area densely populated with other teams? Post “Tricks of the Trade” on your website in the form of downloadable documents, pdf’s etc.

Last but not least, remember, don’t just do it for Chairmans. Do it because you love what you’re doing, because you want to tell others all about it, because you’re proud. When it all comes down to it, it’s not gonna be the medal around your neck that makes the difference, but the memories that you think about when you look back on how you got there that makes the difference.

All i can say is try to get together with your schools are museums or any place you think your team can put on a demo. Set it up so you show what your team is about, and what the FIRST community is all about. We do this an it helps alot. We get asked back every year to some events, its a great way for chairmans help. Even if you have any parades or anything for your town or local towns around your team. Every thing you do in your community will help you! Good Luck!!! :smiley:

We do both regular community service & science/tech related community service.

I think Beth’s comments were excellent for team related stuff. (thanks for more ideas!!)

Some of our other ideas were:

  • Do demos at elementary schools, or go into the classes and do a small robotics or science related project with them
  • Go to an elderly home or senior center and set up email accounts for some of the members (perhaps donate a computer)

But as for the regular community service, I would argue that that still spreads the word of “FIRST”. Every event we do we wear our shirts, and the sea of red&black is very noticible. It inevitably brings up the question “what do you guys do?” so we tell them… and the word of FIRST is spread. One of these days, my guess is that will spark some mother or some other student to get a team started in their area. Plus at the same time, you are growing the students & teambuilding. Community service is a GREAT way to teach students how to give of themselves, and do good things for the community in the name of the robotics team. Plus the bonding your team will get at the service event will be much greater than any team meeting. So I wouldnt just pass up those trash cleanups or tree plantings so quickly!

What others pointed out are some really good points. Instead of making a long post you can take a look at our chairmans entry.

i believe anyway to get your name out into your community is a way that you do community service. Last year i was on Rosie Robotics, and in Agawam Ma, we had a veterans day parade we march in every year. Also reaching out to others in your community that need help, look and ask people if they are looking for help. We made tops from scrap plastic we had in our shop during the holidays and gave them to needy children in our area. I always love doing community service for our team, it builds team unity, and makes you feel good at the same time. Try and do your best with community service, it may not be the strongest point of your team, but thats ok, go out and do it for the love of your team, your love of your community, and the love of FIRST. medals are always nice, but the main purpose. it is having your team giving back. my best recommendation is to be creative, and be willing to think outside the box, oh yeah and HAVE FUN!

I could go for a while on this subject as well, my teams are also low budget but trying to spread FIRST while making an impact on our community. As for not having the money to do FLL, keep in mind that starting an FLL team isn’t the only way to be involved. Find a local competition and have members of your team volunteer to set up for the event or be judges.

Does your school have a National Honor Society or Interact Club? If so try to form a partnership with them and be involved with each other’s community service activities.

First I would like to thank everyone who has posted, your ideas will definitely get my team started in the right direction and hopefully most of your ideas will become a reality.

we had the same problem last year. Due to lack of organization, we ere not able to do anythin. But this year we came up with bunch of ideas. I would like to share couple:

if your team cannot help or afford make a FLL or VEX team, do any kind of community service, even involving SEA Organizations. You can have a weekly deal with Circuit City or Best BUy; take your robot over there and get teh word out. We did that several times, including an introduction to FIRST stand at Smithsonian Musuem. Its really helps us, finding more mentors and gettin more donations. Also we got a project to help a disbale kid with his mobilty. If you need any more help, don’t hesitate to email.


One important thing to remember is that if it isn’t based on spreading technology, FIRST doesn’t care.

While I was there, Team 1073 started up two separate charitable organizations–one to help soldiers contact family members back home, and one grand idea ( that failed miserably because no other teams jumped on the bandwagon.

The judges for Chairman’s didn’t really care all that much. So don’t get caught up with humanitarian issues in the context of this award–it won’t help you.


If this post offended you, please read my enumeration posted below.

I would 100% disagree with this comment. FIRST cares about everything you do. The reason that some teams don’t win the Chairman’s Award even though they do great things?

  1. Your Chairman’s presenters forget to mention it in the presentation or don’t emphasize it for what it’s worth.
  2. No one on your team but your Chairman’s group obviously gives a care (aka, you are allowed to talk to judges about what your Chairman’s group does not just your robot)
  3. You have not showed a sustained effort. This is the part that a lot of the younger teams whine about why they can’t get their Chairman’s award in a year. Well, part of the deal is proving that not only can you establish it, but you can maintain it. Yes, maintenence takes time.
  4. People expect instant gratification. Just because you establish something doesn’t mean that you will automatically win Chairman’s for it that year.
  5. Don’t just do community service. The Chairman’s award requires more than just 1-2 service projects.

I decided to post this thing that I messaged to Beth after I realized that perhaps I had been misunderstood–or not made myself clear.

Post: Re: Community Service For Chairmans Award.
Reputation Score: neutral
Reputation Reason: I’m tempted to give you neg rep on this one. Maybe it’s not that FIRST doesn’t care, maybe it’s that your Chaiman’s presenters didn’t do a good job of showing it off, or that no one but your Chairman’s group obviously showed that they cared about CA

We obviously disagree, and I don’t think there is any need to associate disagreement with a negative reputation.

I can tell you right off, however, that
A) As head of the Chairman’s group for three years, we definitely made our humanitarian activity the focus of our presentation
B) Our entire team did publicity for our organizations, and worked extensively collecting funds

What was most painful to me, in fact, was not that we didn’t win. I mean, you can’t expect to win Chairman’s. That’s just stupid.

What bothered me was that what we were doing was radically different from anything other teams were doing–and purported to integrate FIRST as a benevolent social network–and that it received no more than a cursory amount of interest from the judges. It showed me that we had had the wrong aim.

In fact, if memory serves, our feedback from the judges put more emphasis on needing to develop more promotional activities (in addition to our FLL tournaments and robot demos, which did, for all you rooks, receive high marks) than in noting the innovative things we did in terms of utilizing the FIRST network for social ends.

This isn’t sour grapes. I’m merely noting, for the benefit of those still active as members of FIRST teams, that my experience in Chairman’s suggested to me that it is * the promotion of the FIRST organization * (and, indirectly, its ethos), rather than an effort focused on humanitarian ends that draws accolades from the judges. I am not criticizing. You play to the rules of the game, and I’m trying to help enumerate the rules, based on my personal experience.

So please don’t take this as a criticism of FIRST, or of the Chairman’s Award. It’s a great award given to great teams. I’m just trying to give some points of what not to do, to counterbalance what all the other teams are saying to do.

To sum, *nothing gains higher marks than a positive promotion of the FIRST organization and the spread of benevolent technology within your community. *


my team does just that with the brownies, we invite several brownie troops for a badge day where we set up various expierments for them to do, so they can earn their science badges, in addition we usualy bring out the robot and one of the lego robots to show them what they could get into if they were interested.

The only reason i created this thread was to get some ideas on what other teams are doing in their communities. Last year team 836’s chairmans award entry was good but the judges wanted to see more community involvement and i just wanted to hear some of the ideas and things that have worked out well for other teams. And so far all the ideas posted are and will be of great use, to get our team better known in the community and help the growth of our team. I don’t think a team should do community service just for chairmans award but to further develop its team and its members and spread inspiration and the goals of FIRST whenever possible.

This year, right after the Championship, our team worked on helping a disable kid with his mobility. It was really challengin as the kid was only 10 months old, and has limited legs and arm. We used ultarasonic sensors ( which was really hard to program) and infrared sensors to make it more safe. Other than that, the user interface was another BIG porblem.
Our hardwork got paid, and our county approved it with $ star safety rating.
you can find pictures at
Thisproject was not only appreciated by the community , but also by the well known doctors at INOVA Fairfax Hospital. I guess, this year we are goin to use this technological success as the basis of our Charimans award entry; not mentioning the community service and FIRST_OUT_Word boths we had done so far.

While I have no intention of starting a flame war, I have to agree with Beth here… maybe for other reasons though.
When you say this:

I think it is misleading.
#1: I havent been at a single regional EVER (in my 10 years) where FIRST employees were the judges of the CA. Perhaps that is just nitpicking, maybe you meant “The representatives of FIRST dont care”…

#2: It is good that you are sharing your experience, but my guess is that is just from one, maybe two regionals. Different judges & judging teams can be looking for different things. One regionals judges might be looking for more technical depth, another’s might be looking for more breadth across the community.

#3 The words “dont care” are harsh. Perhaps you earn higher points for more technically related things at your regional, but thats not to say that they dont view your impact on the community as positive. I would hate for teams to stop doing community service just because it “didnt win them the chairmans award.” Our team uses CS for teambuilding & getting our names out in the community as I mentioned above. This can hugely tie you into opportunities to do more technical type presentations.

Personally I hope all teams can look past the “winning” and the “losing” awards, because in the end, awards are just another piece of plastic on your shelf. Its good to have lofty goals, but that shouldnt embitter you. Its just a game, and the more important thing is the family that you build and the experiences & lives that you change.

If you cant start a team then display what you have. Create a very simple project or task and bring it to different demonstrations at elementary schools or senior citizen homes etc. Doing hands on stuff especially with the younger students will connect with them better than just showing off a robot. The more interaction between your team and any group you go out to the stronger the connection.

Indeed, another local team (1398) started holding programs at the local library, which passed word of the concept all across the country. (Something must’ve worked–it won them EI at Palmetto.)