Does anyone’s team have highschool classes they can take related to First? I’ve seen that other activities like Debate have classes they can take that allow them to work on their activity for course credit. Does anyone have these types of courses available at their school?
Our school has a SHSM program (Specialized High Skills Major) in robotics. Starting from grade 9, students in the program take two robotics-related courses like computer technology, computer science, tech design or manufacturing.
our school is about to start a robotics class just for our team next year
I can’t speak on how good they are, but I know 1678 has a couple. Courses - Citrus Circuits
3636 (Grant High School in Portland, OR) has a robotics course!
At 325 (and soon with 144 too) our whole team is based off of our Mechatronics program at Butler Tech. Through this two year program we take all the classes necessary to earn an Associates Degree in Electro Mechanical Engineering when we graduate high school. We use FRC as our capstone project in the second semester of our senior year so we get around two hours a day in class time to work on FRC related activities.
There are massive benefits to this where we get a lot more collaboration time, resources with our technical school and increased knowledge of electromechanical systems as a whole. There are some downsides as since we are a two year program, our team only consists of juniors and seniors who typically don’t have any FRC experience coming in. It is a challenge quickly retaining information learned from a previous year and passing it on so quickly to one class, and then doing the same thing again next year. We did get the name Respawn from this as our class cycles are two years rather than the typical 4 years.
Through my experience, there are quite a few challenges to making this happen. As a disclaimer, this is my experience as a high school engineering and tech teacher in Indiana. I know a few others who have successfully made this happen but do not know the details.
- You need a teacher who wants to put the work in. Look for an Engineering and Technology teacher as their curriculum options best suit this kind of content, imo. Also, great to bring them on as a mentor. They almost always have great lab space and tools if you aren’t already in there.
- There are two paths you can go from here:
2a. Best bet is to encourage the teacher to implement FRC based projects into their existing curriculum. I have caded gearboxes and brought an AP Java class to the school as someone in this position. However, my “robot” knowledge is minimal but it would not be hard to include electronics, more programming knowledge, motor control etc. A class like Non-PLTW Principles of Engineering has quite a few units that utilize vex structure, motor control and basic electronics than could be swapped for FRC based content. Specifically, we used non-pltw Digital Electronics as our “Robotics Course” in the past. More on this later.
2b. Harder route. Check your state course catalog and find a course that aligns with what you want to do. Talk with a supportive teacher. Have that teacher try and add the course to the district course catalog (process will vary district to district). In Indiana, Digital Electronics, Principles of Engineering, and possibly introduction to Manufacturing can offer you many possibilities to include FRC content like mentioned above. Other classes exist on the books but our state is constantly changing things regarding funding and it’s a mess. That’s a whole other conversation that you should consider when talking with teachers/administrators.
- This mostly applies to adding new courses but is still important to 2a: you need administration support. They will go to bat for you if they believe in your program. Our superintendent had a son on the team for four years and still watches matches on twitch and comes to our local competitions. In the past, we had an unspoken agreement that our Non-Pltw Digital Electronics class would function as a robotics team class. Small sections and specifically focused on building a robot during season. Students could also take it for multiple years and still receive credit. This was all because of the aforementioned support.
This is already a lot longer than I anticipated but feel free to ask follow questions if any of this is helpful.
This is the point where I jump in and talk about the work my team and others are doing to try and make robotics count for class credit even if its afterschool, like some states do for PE credit and sports. Which while not a in school class, but it does recognize how much work we put in. For more info, check this link
My school has an after school class that goes over how our team functions that runs once a week while leads give presentations on their group. It’s for first year members and you take it once and after that you get credit for being on the robotics team. So I got 4 free a+ for doing the semester long class once a week just for being on the team. That way we can get credit for being on the team
We have tons of engineering classes taught by our coach, there is even a robotics class for people on our team.
Our school has classes on engineering, coding, and CAD, and all of our members have taken at least one of these courses.
We don’t have any robotics courses as of right now. Next year however, our school is starting an AP Computer Science Principles - FIRST Robotics focused course. It would have all of the curriculum of AP Computer Science Principles, but it would teach WPI and frc programming.
not my team but i know sotabots (2557) has a mini term in january where they can take a “sotabots” class and just build robots all day- it sounds like a blast tbh
We just got two courses adopted in my district. They are officially CTE courses, but can be taught as non-CTE is other funding sources are available.
Robotics 2 (Honors)
This is JUST THE FRAMEWORK, and the day-to-day curriculum is still being worked on.
The plan at my site is to offer Robotics 2 next year to experienced team members and new recruits with a recommendation. I cannot do both courses and teach my physics/AP physics classes, so I’m looking to get someone else to do Robotics 1.
Edit: I did not write these course descriptions and did not have input into their content.
Previously I taught Mechatronics and Java Programming. Both classes were CTE approved and relied heavily on using FRC, FTC, Arduino and similar hardware for project based learning. Students in the Java class would have a focus on Android Java App development all year with a capstone mock FTC game with the REV global kits. It combined getting the gaming kids into trying out some basic robotics programming.
The Mechatronics course was CAD, Machining, Circuit Design and assembly in project based learning. The Year 2 students would do their own FRC bot or combined senior project that was similar in size and scale to FRC. The year 1 students were tasked with making game props, printing parts, testing components or if team members were in the class they could use their class time to work on the Teams robot.
Both classes ended when I left the district. The district wouldn’t increase the number of classes I was allowed to teach to make me full time and I couldn’t live on less than $33k a year I was making being only “part time”.
They were a great recruiting tool for the team, it helped us expand our skill and tool set, and ultimately it gave the team much more time to work. I really miss it, but the company I landed at is a Team sponsor and I still coach the team. Now we just have to push the other classes at the schools to get the kids into robotics after school since there’s nothing during the school day anymore.
If you can convince your school and make it work with what you want to do, Comp. Sci. A-Java is a much better option. More schools will take the credit and you can just focus on learning java which is probably what you’d need for FRC programming anyways.
A few years ago, I worked with some colleagues to create standards and framework for a 9-12 grade CTE course that would work with FIRST, VEX, BEST, and other high school level robotics team platforms. The Indiana DOE has the framework posted here:
Robotics Design & Innovation
Indiana designated it as a High Value Level 1 program, which yields $680 per student per semester to the school corporation from the Department of Workforce Development.
Actually now that I’m thinking about this our team did a big push to get participation in Robotics with some curriculum and attendance requirements as a graded credit or participation credit. This was a multi year project lead by our team captain and our business team at the time.
At the time when I was still teaching I was doing attendance, grading “classwork” as it was assigned and approved by our districts curriculum dept. This is still I think an available option for any team in Michigan that is associated with a Public School and has a Teacher who will handle the paperwork. We leveraged FIRST Badges and other class curriculum and requirements we made up to have something worth the participation credit or graded credit. The idea came from Band students getting to earn their .5 PE credits from marching band after school. If they did it all 4 years it would give them 2 extra credits and they could skip a required class in their schedule. Same idea here was you could earn applicable credits for your time spent in robotics.
Complete Navigating Implementation of High School Credit Packet (1).pdf (8.9 MB)
College Park HS in Conroe, TX has a program of study aligned with the basics of FRC robot creation and meshed with the state’s standards.
It starts with a “principles of applied engineering” class for freshmen which focuses on topics like conceptual physics, lots of hands-on projects, career exploration/preparation and a lot of Solidworks instruction.
The next two years are “robotics 1 & 2” in which students design, CAD, CAM, CNC fabricate, assemble, program and operate a small 4-gearbox, 4-motor drivetrain bot using FRC equipment& motors. Robotics 2 goes further in depth and is not limited to FRC equipment.
idk if it is technically related to first but my school has a mechanical drafting class where you learn autocad and 3d printing softwares.