While AMRoC Fab Lab provides a variety of resources, meeting and learning opportunities for all ages, it is anchored by a robust youth robotics program. AMRoC is home to the only permanent, full scale high-school level FIRST Robotics Competition field perimeter in the state, as well as a FIRST Tech Challenge field and FIRST LEGO League game tables, and 7500 sq. ft. of meeting and build space, with tools, workbenches, a forest of whiteboards, laptops and CAD software. Thanks to HEAT VEX, and SOFWERX, who is generously sharing their VEX field, VEX teams now also have a place to learn and practice, too. And we’re actively exploring robotics platforms for adults, as well.
Why Youth Robotics?
FIRST and VEX are two popular youth robotics platforms. FIRST youth robotics programs have long been supported by FCDI, which annually hosts the popular ROBOTICON Tampa Bay off-season and STEM Showcase. It’s also been studied extensively by Brandeis University, most recently in a longitudinal study now entering its 6th year. That study and others provide plenty of evidence based support that an experiential STEM education platform like FIRST is effective across many levels, improving grades, communications skills and inspiring youth to pursue well paying careers in not just science and tech fields, but also mechanical and electrical trades and programs.
Young Innovators in the House!
At AMRoC, with the goal of providing FIRST programming to area children, we have three “house” teams, teams sponsored by FCDI, and coached by FCDI mentors and volunteers: FIRST LEGO League Jr team (deep breath!) Pikachu Boomtown Fennekin Raptors, FIRST LEGO League team Carbon and FIRST Tech Challenge Team Duct Tape, a veteran team started by FCDI board members a dozen years ago and now based at AMRoC. We will also be hosting FIRST Robotics Competition team Edgar Allan Ohms,of the Land O’Lakes Library, later this year.
Additionally, other community and school teams meet regularly at AMRoC, like the HEAT VEX teams, Middleton High School’s team FRC team Minotaur, FTC team VISION, and FLL Team Nerdy Nifflers, and other teams can reserve build and practice field space, as availability allows. AMRoC will also host scrimmages – practice events – for FIRST LEGO League, FIRST Tech Challenge and FIRST Robotics Competitions throughout the 2019-20 season.
Student Robotics Open Build Day
To provide even greater access, this week we’re kicking off a weekly after-school Student Robotics Open Build Day at AMRoC. Registration is required, but each Wednesday, at no cost, from 3:30 pm to 7:30 pm, local area teams can come by AMRoC to use the FLL, FTC, FRC or VEX fields, and work on their robots or programming, and connecting with other area teams to learn together.
Please note that any participating youth groups MUST have a supervising adult 20 years of age or older with them at all times. Machine shop access is limited and can be used only with AMRoC staff supervision. Playing fields and tables will be shared collaboratively during Open Build days, and all youth robotics teams on site must abide by our Robotics Teams Policy Guide
Please RSVP for the date(s) of your choice at our MeetUp page, with the number of students participating.
For teams seeking longer, privately scheduled build and meeting space use, please visit our Student Robotics Teams page.
We hope youth robotics coaches and mentors will take advantage of the opportunity for students to work and practice together, and to use the resources at AMRoC to have a great season. Go Teams!