Programs

US FIRST offers robotic challenge programs for all ages.  We cannot begin a comprehensive program within the Union District immediately.   Given the physical dispersement of the Union District, it seems that the most logical first step is to establish an FLL program for the Middle School ages. 
 
FLL Jr - jr First Lego League, K-3rd Grade - Wikipedia
Complete a project on a particular topic, and build a lego project to represent some element of your project.
 
FLL - First Lego League, 4th - 8th Grade - Wikipedia
Each year a new project and theme is defined by US FIRST.  Teams build Lego Mindstorms Robots to perform the scored challenges.  The robots are autonomous (operate independantly based upon programming) and the field is play is 4' x 8'.  Teams must also prepare a presentation on a topic relevant to the year's theme.  Judges will interview the teams with regard to their project topic, as well as the technicals of their robot.  Scoring is 25% presentation, 25% presentation interview, 25% technical interview, and 25% actual robot performance of tasks.  FLL - Middle School - working to initiate for 2010
 
FTC - FIRST Tech Challenge, High School - Wikipedia
 Each year US FIRST introduces a new 12' x 12' playing field, and defines how scoring will occur.  There are usually mutliple "goals" with different degrees of difficulty, and different point values.  Robots are smaller (18" x 18" x 18" maximum), and perform in both an Autonomous (based upon preloaded programming) and a remote-control mode/period.  The research projects are eliminated at the high school levels, allowing the teams to focus entirely on the creativity and engineering tasks of achieving the goals and scoring --- as well as defensive and offensive strategies.
 
FRC - FIRST Robotics Competition, High School - Wikipedia
Each year US FIRST designs and new competion of goals and challenges.  The robots are large (up to 120 lbs), and they play on a large 27' x 54' field of play.   Robots are entirely remote controlled, and compete in randomly assigned alliances (until the final rounds when alliances are specifically formed).   Multiple robots are on the field during each round of play, and robots are fully allowed to play both offensive and defensive strategies -- which may involve blocking or obstructing other robots -- or performing tasks in conjunction with other robots - or preventing the competitors from doing so.  This is the ultimate "rough and tumble" challenge, and the robots need to be designed to withstand such abuse.  Absolute "Gracious Professionalism" (a very high standard of sportsmanship) is expected.
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