Email from President of FiM Gail Alpert:
FIRST announced yesterday that the Detroit Championship is being pushed out to the summer. We are poised for a different, but amazing, 2021 FRC season. Here is a glimpse of what the season will look like in Michigan:
OVERVIEW OF THE FRC SEASON
We will be playing the same game as last year. You can use the same robot or modify it any way you like. Rookies from last year will still be considered rookies this season with regards to the point system.
District Competitions (as of now)
- Our competitions will begin the last weekend in February (as they always do) and end the last weekend in April. This is 2 weeks longer than usual.
- Events will be much smaller with 12-18 teams instead of 40.
- The number of attendees will be limited. There will be no spectators and only a handful of people from a single team. The exact number will be determined closer to the event, based on state-mandated gathering numbers.
- Events will start and finish in a single day, including playoffs.
- Judging will be remote.
- The number of volunteers needed at a single event will be greatly reduced.
- Social distancing, mask-wearing and sanitization rules will be in effect at all competitions.
THE HUB CONCEPT FOR COMPETITIONS
We are looking to establish HUBS around the state where fields will be erected before our first week of competition at the end of Feb and stay up until the end of April. Each HUB would host many single-day events. Minimizing field set up and tear down will decrease the risk to our volunteers. We would love to find 10 HUB sites- one in the central UP (Escanaba ideal), and 9 scattered around the lower peninsula.
If you know of a great venue that could work, please let me know. We don’t need bleachers, just a space about the size of a normal gym to house pits and a field. Kettering, GVSU, and St Joe are already on the list. We especially need to find one in the northern part of the lower peninsula.
RUNNING YOUR TEAM WITH REMOTE OR SMALL IN-PERSON MEETINGS
We know meeting with your team will be different this year. View this just as another challenge FIRST has thrown at you. Some teams are meeting with small sub-groups on assigned days. Others are running everything they can via Zoom or Google Meet. Any method can work. You just have to get creative.
For those of you that already have a plan in place, please write it up and email it to me. We will create a spot to share ideas and best practices with other teams. If your team is having trouble visualizing how to function this season, feel free to email me. We will figure it out together.
TEAMS WITHOUT ACCESS TO THEIR ROBOTS
If your team is having an issue getting inside your school to grab your robot, email me and we will try contacting the school. The good news is that FIRST will have program alternatives that are purely remote for teams that can’t access their robots or that can’t attend even small in-person competitions. The alternatives will be announced at kickoff in January. This means that regardless of your COVID-19 circumstances, we will have a program for you!
FREE FTC, FLL AND PRE-K DISCOVER ROBOT KITS
Thanks to our incredible sponsors, FIRST in Michigan is once again able to offer free kits and registration to our new FLL and FTC teams. FIRST through LEGO even has grants for underserved districts for FLL Discover, our newest PRE-K program to make the whole season free! If your school hasn’t yet expanded to the lower programs, this season is a great time to do so. It’s not at all too late. Email me for more info.
FTC ROBOT MANIPULATOR IN 5 DAYS!
Calling all Michigan FRC teams. We spent the summer creating a middle school FTC curriculum that will include manipulators that work with this season’s FTC game. We’d love our Michigan FRC teams to design them! FRC teams are invited to submit their FTC designs in our version of the “Robot in 3 Days” which I call the “Manipulator in 5 Days” challenge!
Here’s how to participate-
After this season’s FTC Challenge is released on Sept. 12, Michigan FRC teams will have five days to come up with a game strategy and then design a manipulator to execute that strategy. Parts must be from either the REV Robotics FTC kit or the TETRIX FTC Start Kit.
Teams will be asked to create and submit two brief two-minute videos- one to explain their strategy and one to explain how they designed the manipulator to execute that strategy.
Teams interested in participating should visit-
FIM FRC FTC Manipulator Challenge.
The State’s 2021 budget has not been finalized. At the moment, our grant is in the Governor’s proposed budget on line 99(h) of School Aid. We hope to make it into the final budget which must be passed by Oct 1. More to come once we know more!
The $4,000 Rookie Grant from FIRST will be offered again this season. If you know a school who’d love to join FIRST, please let me know. It’s actually the perfect year to join. Our veteran teams will have lots of time to assist rookies (remotely) as their robots are mostly done!
Equity and Access Grant for Veteran Teams
Like last year, FIRST has a limited number of grants up to $5,000 for veteran teams from underserved or underrepresented schools looking to sustain or expand their FIRST programs. Teams that don’t fit this description but who want to start teams in underserved or underrepresented areas are also eligible. The grant is not yet open. We will post the link on the firstinmichigan.org website once it opens.
That was certainly a lot of info but I hope you found it useful. I will post this email to our blog on the firstinmichigan.org website.
Can’t wait for the season to begin!
All the best,