Spotlight: South Africa FTC Camp

Tzaneen, South Africa
7/4/2019 - 7/11/2019

After mentoring FLL teams in South Africa through Skype during the 2018-2019 season, we decided we needed to bring higher levels of robotics to them directly. A huge thanks to our sponsors AMD, GoBuilda, AndyMark, E2 Open, and HP. For two weeks at the beginning of July this summer, our team traveled to Tzaneen, South Africa with the goal of getting two FTC teams off the ground. Using our sponsorships, we were able to bring 2 full GoBuilda Master kits with rev hubs, phones controllers and replacement parts for the season, 6 laptops, 2 3D printers, tools, and a field for the teams to learn with and use for this and future seasons. Week One we held five days of crash course to FTC. Each student got to choose to specialize between hardware, software, or marketing, and took in as much information as they could. By the end of the week, both teams had their own robot, tele-op and autonomous code, business plan, engineering notebook, and social media accounts. The following week, they got to showcase their hard work to their community at a local science center.


Austin, Texas

We visited the AMD headquarters and had a conference with their marketing team. We discussed different strategies for creating a more simplistic and effective appeal for our portfolios and engineering notebook. We also came up with around ten points in which we could improve our overall outreach approach in order to reach more students around the world. The team specifically gave us advice relating to our posters and tips on how to convey information in an impactful way.

Sammy's House

Austin, Texas

Sammy’s House holds a special place in our hearts. We introduced the concepts of FIRST and STEM to these students in a fun and creative way through STEM experiments, lego building, and FLL robots. Over the course of a couple hours we guided them through all different aspects of STEM, including physics, engineering, and coding. The reason this outreach is so important to our team is because these students are disabled and don’t get to have the same experiences neurotypical children do. We wanted to give them the same opportunities, teaching them about robotics and STEM while engaging them and giving them a fond memory to look back upon. We hope to work with them again!

Silicon Labs

Austin, Texas

Heading to Silicon Labs’ headquarters downtown, we learned about software protocols, organizational strategies, and effective marketing skills. Silicon Labs is a silicon and software development company that helps other companies perform automated equipment tests and virtual instrumentation. It was an eye-opening experience as our software team had never before considered software jobs like these to exist. After learning about them and what they can do, we told them about our team and robot. They were very interested in our team and we hope to continue working with them in the future.


Austin, Texas

As founder members of SACOT in 2016, we wanted to ensure advocacy continued for the future students of Texas, even though it is an off year for the Texas State Legislature. We met with a panel of professionals that discussed their take on some current issues and visions for the future. Then, we flipped the room and students became the panelists. It was amazing to share our experiences in STEM and let representatives understand how vital widespread STEM access is in our state.


San Marcos, Texas

Amazon delivers over 6.8 million packages a day, but how do they keep everything running so smoothly? We visited Amazon’s fulfillment center to see their entire process, from receiving an order to loading out packages. One of the most fascinating things they showed us was their mini army of robots they use to move ordered products around the floor. They are all connected so they don’t run into one another, and can quickly navigate to picking stations. We were inspired by this to create autonomous programs that are able to navigate around our alliance partners.


Austin, Texas

At the LEEF Mudstacle, we introduced students to the world of FIRST. We set up a booth at this event for 3,000 students and parents to interact with. For the kids we had our robot on demo for them to drive, and EV3s that they could walk up and begin programming to get a taste of robotics. For parents, we had pamphlets on Jr FLL, FLL, and FTC in both Spanish and English on everything they need to know to get their kids involved in robotics. While driving our robot, we answer any questions the students had, explaining each mechanism in kid-friendly terms.

Meridian Mentoring

Round Rock, Texas

One of our team members kept in contact with their elementary school FLL teacher who has since moved schools, and wanted to start a robotics program at the new school. Before the season started they were having a parent information that we went to speak at from a student perspective. Most of the parents in attendance were new to FIRST entirely so we explained the whole organization, and how FIRST Lego League and FIRST Lego League Jr. fit into it. We spoke about our experience in FLL, and some of the awesome memories we made. And as members of an FTC team, we also shared about the future programs their kids can look forward to, and the endless skills they will pick up. Afterwards, we answered lots of one-on-one questions from individuals more curious about robotics and what we do. Once their season started we began mentoring their 5 FLL teams.

AISD Back To School Bash

Austin, Texas

Before jumping back into school, we hosted a booth at Austin ISD’s back to school bash. We set up our two FTC robots to showcase one of FIRST’s upper level competitions, and two Lego mindstorms for elementary and middle school age. Kids were able to drive around the mindstorms while we talked to parents about finding or starting FIRST teams in their school. Finally, each student got to take home mini lego kits and robot themed coloring pages!

National Advocacy Conference

Washington D.C., US
6/23/2019 - 6/25/2019

Two of our members traveled to Washington DC to the National Advocacy Conference with over 200 FIRST teams and over 500 students. Learning about advocacy on the national level, the conference discussed the policies most likely to promote and expand access to STEM across the country. Following this, our members met with Congressman Carter, Representative Roy, Representative Doggett, Senator Cruz and Senator Cornyn to advocate these policies, and share the unique view of a student that has experienced the benefit of a STEM program.

Lake Travis Community Library Showcase

Lakeway, Texas

Our first outreach event of the 2019-2020 season! Setting up tiles and tables in the conference of Lake Travis Community Library, local kids came through to get a taste of FIRST. They were able to drive the robot around to “score” the scattered minerals. On the tables, they could build with assorted mindstorm pieces, or build the tallest marshmallow and spaghetti tower for some candy!