Leveling the Playing Field with Curriculum - let's make it happen

I am working with an nationally accredited Institute in Redmond, WA that is interested in supporting FRC with free curricular modules, through which students/teachers would be able to get transferable credit. It would be particularly aimed at helping rookie teams successfully compete. I haven’t been able to find very detailed information here on technical concepts (versus logistical).

I’m interested in:

  1. What concepts do teams struggle most with?
  2. What specific aspects of engineering, math, and physics could be provided to rookies to help them gain a broader understanding of robotics (with respect to FRC)? I might even try to match these with National Education Standards, where they exist.

The curriculum would be designed specifically for FRC and ideally wouldn’t require the use/purchase of another kit. We’d love to be able to alleviate some of the burden of the mentors and teachers by providing these online… Also, I welcome any feedback on/collaboration with existing FRC curriculum. (Am currently checking out white papers, firstobjective, MOE, etc as well).

Squirrel #1726 (N.E.R.D.S) and JesseK (#1885) were particularly helpful in their posts of topics:
“No Smoking: Wire sizes, insulation, current, fuses, safe wiring practices
Tipping: Center of gravity and how to make a robot stay upright
Screw It: Choosing the right fasteners and using them properly
Draw It: How to get your ideas across so others can understand them
It Bent: How to figure what materials to use, which shape, and size”
“Custom Circuit Design
Advanced Rotary Motion”

Michelle, We need to get together. I am putting together a curriculum at Aviation High School (also here in Seattle) It would be interesting to see what you have and what I anticipate using. I am not sure what you mean by not requiring any more materials than FRC. For rookie teams there simply is just not enough time to prepare if they wait for those materials to come with the kit.

Here at Aviation I teach two specific robotics classes one in programming/control and the other in advanced robotic engineering problems. We have another instructor that does an introductory robotics course. This year for the first time we will be giving credit for being on our team. Our team has approximately 40 members (10% of the school size)

It is necessary to put together some type of pre-season kit to acquaint Rookie teams with basic principles. I would love to brainstorm this approach with you at some point.

I have been doing curriculum that directly leads into FRC and robotics in general for about 7 years now using a variety of platforms.

Things to include: (Units) (many of these you have already listed)

Introduction to hand tools
Introduction to machine tools
Working as a team
Working with mentors
Basic Mechanical Engineering
Basic Electronics
Fasteners and Fastening
Machine Control
Designing for maintenance
Game Strategy
Systems Engineering




The real devil in FRC is in the details. Knowing the major rules concerning what you can and can’t use is critical. Safety is another area where team members need specific information. For example:

  • Prior to downloading a new program the robot should be placed on a test stand
  • All team members should be able to identify the main power switch and be able to turn it off.

Knowledge of the FRC Competition and FRC Safety Considerations should be required for all team members. Since much of this is common from year to year, it can and should be taught before the build season.


Also, can anyone answer: What topics could rookie teachers/teams use the most help with?

We are looking to provide live help in the form of webcast and chatroom. What would you like to see taught?

Bob, I’ve emailed you to set up a meeting. shellygraf@gmail.com

Reading a technical document and all of its associated updates and interpretations. In this case, the rules. As an inspector this year, I hadn’t officially started inspections yet at the regional I was at, but I was wandering the pits taking a look at the various designs and looking for the blatant stuff. Two rookie teams had mis-interpreted the same definition. I gave them a little help to get in compliance (fortunately, it was a set of “The rule says… You have… trim this and shift this to X which is about 3.5” that way, and you should be fine for the sizing box"). I don’t remember many (if any) other teams having issues with that particular rule at that event.

This also fits under Game Strategy: Keeping a schedule. It’s easy to spend about 3 weeks debating what strategy and design and spend another 3 weeks prototyping. It’s a lot harder to get all that done in 3 weeks and build the robot in another 3 weeks. For a rookie, there isn’t much experience, so you have to go with your gut… and sometimes, you figure out mid-build that your gut is wrong and change the plan.

Also, if you’re targeting this to rookies, you might want to check out MOEMentum and Team-in-a-Box for some other topics that are helpful to that audience specifically.

Just to add a few more to the list.
MVRT 115 - http://www.mvrt.com/2008/resources/trainings.php
Cyberblue 234 - http://www.cyberblue234.com/whitePapers.html (More for veterans)
DiscoBots 2587 - http://2009.discobots.org/node/7 (has new cRio tutorials)

This topic is so relevant for me. I would absolutely love to see some curricula.

Like many new teams, we know what our strengths are. It’s the start of our second year, and we’re trying to improve those areas needing help. Some times just having a starting point is important. Consider CAD as an example. People feel strongly about several different platforms. We need a decision path that will enable us to choose one and then learn enough to be able to use it.

If you start a mailing list or some sort of contact list, I’d love to be on it.

  • Trying to Help

Trying to Help,

You bring a good point in regards to “CAD”. I think there is a lot topics that teams would like to be “trained on”, while there is other “core classes”.

I am thinking core classes that are essential :

FUND 100 Introduction to Robotics Competition
Why robotics competition ?
What makes a good mentor ?

MKT 100 Public Relations
How do I write and distribute a Press Release ?
How do you make and distribute a good 5 minute promo video ?


There are a couple of things fresh in my mind after the SeaPerch symposium last week so I’ll share my initial thoughts on this. To meet national standards for acquiring Perkins Grant dollars for this curriculum, you’ll have to match each unit to a national standard. There are other requirements as well.

As an example, you could view what MIT has created for part of the SeaPerch curriculum (9-12) pertaining to the national standards. The caveat: I can’t say that every piece of it applies to FRC since it’s a completely different program with different motives and methods. So when creating a curriculum you will need to truly understand the motives behind FIRST FRC and how they differ from the MIT curriculum.

The key differences: FIRST robotics are great for industry interaction with education for land-based robots that foster high levels of thought and profound innovations amongst all ages whereas SeaPerch is great for being extremely inexpensive, underwater, micro-macro scalable, and easy to implement for children. Both inspire the next generation to become engineers, whereas FIRST also takes it a step further by trying to persuade our overall culture.

1885 is up to it’s ears :ahh: in robotics curriculum sometimes. If you have any specific questions, I can ask the person who wrote our local SeaPerch, VEX, (new) FLL, and Tech Ed curriculum for specifics.