FRC "boot camp" - anyone have anything already?

So after a year of not doing recruitment, 6328 is about to bring on a crew of new students. I’m sure many teams are doing the same right about now.

One of the things we want to do is a mini “boot camp” that introduces these students to our team, FIRST/FRC, and some super basic robot stuff for 8th/9th graders who don’t have much, if any, experience. Think along the lines of: What is a drivetrain? What do controllers do? Why would you use pneumatics? What’s an intake vs. elevator vs. hopper vs. some other game-piece-handler? The super basics before going into introductory sub-team training programs so everyone has the same vocabulary.

Does anyone have something like that already created they’d be willing to share? It’s not team specific so I figured I’d ask before we dive into creating one from scratch. I’ve done some searching (both in CD and the general interwebz) and haven’t yet found anything public.

Thanks for any help!

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We are doing six afternoon sessions in late July. Here’s the general outline of the build side of things. Software has their own agenda. We have 17 middle schoolers signed up and expect 6-12 of our current HS team to be on hand in a mixed teaching/learning role.

Robot School Curriculum – Build Team

Three “sessions” per day. 12:30 – 1:45, break, 2:00-3:45, 3:45-5:00 We will call them sessions A, B, C.

Each day session C will be for “Projects and Robot Driver’s Ed.”, also where we will have presentations. We want anyone with an interest to try their hand at driving the Big Robots.

Day 1: A- Basic Fusion (design software) and Shop Safety/power tools Due to numbers we will divide Builders into Red and Blue sub groups. Each will do either Fusion or Shop Safety in Session A and switch over in B.

Day 2: A-Basic Fusion and Fasteners/materials. Each sub group takes one then in B switches to the other.

Day 3: A-Basic Fusion (all). B – projects We hope to have everyone design something in Fusion by this point that can be put on the laser cutter and made of metal by the next day of Robot School.

Days 4,5,6: A-advanced Fusion for those with special interest. B – projects for everyone. On day six B and C will be prep for Open House (Covid restrictions allowing), organize tools and supplies for end of School pack up.

Projects include: Assembly of swerve modules.
Assembly of table topper unit
Build test bed for swerve modules with KoP frame and brackets
Figuring out 3D printers
Basic Pneumatics and control systems
Design and build a basic intake system with chain drive
Plus whatever else the group finds of interest.

We are also, covid restrictions allowing, going to have outside speakers come in each day. Day one is a local HR director to talk about workplace behaviour. Day two should be a history of team 5826. We’ll have local companies come on days three four five and the last day is open house.

Every day there is a “snack challenge”, something they need to solve before snacks. Day one it will be figuring the weight of a measurable object were it made of assorted materials. (easy to do in Fusion 360!). Other build, design software challenges to follow.

This is a development of a program we tried out in '19 before the world went, you know. PM if interested in more details.

Tim Wolter
Mentor and chief janitor



Last summer we did a 5-week mechanical design course where we cover some basic mechanisms and a little CAD practice. We did one hour a week (all virtual), and the audience were all students who had been on the team last year, but a mix of experienced mech designers and students from other subteams. We covered gearboxes, pneumatics, elevators, winches, and ratchets. This summer we’re planning to swap in arms and conveyors instead of winches and ratchets, and we’re adding an additional 1 hr per week to meet in person and build a prototype or model of that week’s mechanism. I don’t know if last year’s slides are ready to be published yet (hopefully soon) but please DM me if you’d like a copy.

We also did a 2-hour lesson covering “all” the basic mechanisms (read: all the ones I could think of) at more of a surface level, just to get everyone familiar with what’s out there, to help them brainstorm robot ideas for the Fall Project. Every fall we split the kids into ~5 teams and each team builds a robot for an old FTC game, and then we do a mini-tournament at the end of the semester. We had seen in the past that new members struggled to contribute to brainstorming because most of them had never really seen or thought about any mechanisms before, so this presentation was just to get their feet wet, not a deep dive into how to actually design them (we got into that more as we went along). We did get the feedback that it was too much information for a single lesson, and some students would have preferred it be split over 2 or 3 days. Same story as the other presentations I mentioned, not quite ready for public consumption yet but I’d be happy to send you a copy if you DM me!

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Just realized I also have slides for “Intro to Decision Matrices” and “Intro to Grant Writing” from last year, would be happy to share those as well!

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I think the OCCRA competition that happens every fall in SE Michigan does a really good job of providing a way for new students to learn about a lot if FRC basics.

OCCRA is FRC size robots in 2v2 matches on a 32x20 field. There are 4x 1 day events where teams play 4-6 qualification matches, and all qual matches accumulate throughout the season, with a teams 12 highest match scores being used for ranking and alliance selection at the 5th one day event, the county championship.

Robots are simpler then FRC in that you can only use hand-tools or non-precision/CNC equipment. There’s also a $100 per part limit on cots items. Robots are completely designed and built by students, with mentors only able to answer questions and give limited feedback.

The game is also generally simpler then a typical FRC game to make the bar for fielding a competitive robot lower. Games also typically tend to have easy to complete tasks, with the competition becoming more about who can score more efficiently, as well as offense/defense strategy.

I think programs similar to this could be implemented in many areas and do a great job for existing teams to have a good training platform for their students to gain more experience, while the competition also provides a good entry point for new teams into FRC since it is lower cost, less knowledge needed for the barrier of entry, etc.

I recommend checking out some of the threads about the last couple games, and am happy to answer more questions about it.

2020 OCCRA: Soccer Shootout

2019 OCCRA: Roll The Dice

2018 OCCRA: Over n’ Out

OCCRA Website

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