Last weekend the LigerBots talked to students about the team, scooped ice cream for visitors, and asked and answered questions about STEM careers at the “Think Big!” event at the Newton Free Library. In an informal setting in the library’s concert hall, young visitors asked adults with careers in STEM, including our coaches Noa Rensing and Jordan Schwartz, about their successes, challenges, and achievements.
Noam Shoresh, a computational biologist from the Broad Institute at MIT spoke to more than thirty LigerBots in a packed lecture room at Newton North High School on Monday, giving us some introductory approaches to analyzing the large amount of data we gather on other FRC teams before and during competitions. The strategy council hopes to use this data analysis to predict how other teams will do in future competitions and to create better strategy on the fly when we play with and against these teams.
Our team’s computer science training for new recruits has begun with a “peanut-butter-and-jelly-sandwich robot” exercise. Students were tasked with giving instructions for making a pb&j sandwich to a coach or student playing the part of the robot. The “robot” had to do exactly what it was told to do, with no interpretation. It was great fun to watch as the “robot” took the students’ instructions literally–bread was smushed, peanut butter spilled and jelly smeared. This activity introduced students to the idea that computers do what they are told and nothing more, even if it is wrong, and that that computers can’t read between the lines and can’t figure out what was meant. We know our students will take this lesson to heart as they start coding our 2019 robot!
Gregg Mastoras, managing director at Harvard Business School Executive Education, trained student group leaders this week in preparing a 30-second speech that summarizes the LigerBots. Next week, our group leaders will train the rest of the team in making their own elevator pitches, with Gregg’s help. Elevator pitch training will familiarize our students with talking about the robot, the team, and FIRST, making them better prepared to answer questions from judges, other teams, sponsors, and the public at competitions, outreach, and fundraising events.