BY YI-CHIA SCHMAEMAN
In the fall of 2014, 10 high school students became charter members of Wired Devils, Grosse Ile’s FIRST Robotics Competition team. FIRST, For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, is an international organization for youths.
An old woodshop turned storage room was home to the Wired Devils. These youths were enticed by robots. They were attracted to learning by doing. They looked forward to challenges. They also were not afraid of hard work and long hours.
Under the tutelage of mentors, they learned about safety and many used hand and power tools for the very first time. Gradually, they became proficient in using engineering principles to design and prove-out a robot. Once knowledge was shared with students, the mentors stepped aside. The mentors became enablers and staunch cheerleaders of the team. With encouragement from the mentors, the team matured into a student-run operation. The day-to-day organization is planned by the student leads, who are responsible and held accountable by their groups and the mentors.
With the help of veteran teams from Woodhaven, Trenton and Taylor, Wired Devils learned the FIRST guiding principle of Gracious Professionalism, which is treating one another with respect, kindness, and helpfulness. Sincere hand-shaking and helping other members and other teams became a common everyday occurrence.
Wired Devils also learned the FIRST priority of spreading awareness about STEAM. The team has done this through several community service projects, as well as some ongoing educational programs. Their outreach work included showing children the wonders of art and design at a Kiwanis sponsored event. They enjoy teaching future generations about STEAM possibilities with their competition robot and with Lego Mindstorm robots. They have presented at Science Day at the Detroit Zoo, at Freshman Orientation, and at Maker Faire-Detroit which is held at the Henry Ford, and at a sponsor’s workplace, on Take Your Child to Work Day.
The team fiercely cares about their environment. They pick up trash around the school grounds, recycle and participate in the annual Island Cleanup. Wired Devils also volunteer by requests. Many wood benches were constructed for the International Wildlife Refuge at Grosse Ile. The team helps set up and take down at community events.
The team also participates in Island parades. At the Island Fest booth, the youths entertain with their Trash Can robot, which is infinitely entertaining to themselves. They enjoy chatting up passersby about their team.
The team rallied for the local Safety Town event, a summer community program for 5 and 6-year-olds. The team’s graphics group designed a Wired Devils Activity and Coloring book focused on health and hygiene, bike, and traffic safety. To the delight of the children, the team members acted out the various topics in the book.
This past year, Wired Devils had the privilege to recruit and mentor Gibraltar’s Carlson High School to start their own robotics team. To encourage participation in the new team, Wired Devils devised a robot game to engage the students during Carlson’s lunch hour. Many Carlson students signed up to participate. Wired Devils designed and conducted a workshop in various disciplines for the Carlson team. The students assisted the Carlson team throughout the robot build season and competition season and were at their beckon call when needed. As the Wired Devils quickly found, the ability to help others in need is a singly gratifying act.
At the heart of the FIRST program is the competition. Each year at the Kickoff, a new challenging game is introduced. These exciting competitions combine the practical applications of science and technology with the fun, intense energy, and excitement of a championship event. Here, everything that FIRST stands for is celebrated and awarded. At the end of this 2017 competition season, the team is proud to have earned the Industrial Safety Award for exemplary safety practices. For their robot performance in competition, the team earned the Excellence in Engineering Award for excellence in design and execution of one of the most maneuverable and fastest rope-climbing robots on the field.
The Wired Devils was recently tasked to conduct a workshop for the newly formed Meridian Elementary Robotics Competition teams. Under the direction of the youths, the children brainstormed team names and designed logos. Then, the logos were made into graphics artwork, ready for team T-shirts and team buttons. The children learned about teamwork and team spirit through team building activities. During the robot build session, the children had the opportunity to design, construct and program their own intelligent inventions. The Wired Devils was pleased to share, and will continue to mentor the Meridian teams – Tech Storm, Software Savages, and Devil Brains.
Wired Devils is grateful for the sponsorship of Sika, Henkel, Grosse Ile Educational Foundation, FCA, Ford, BASF, Grosse Ile Bridge Company, the Colina family, Guacamole Restaurant, and Athens Podiatry Group.
For opportunities to work with these youths, contact Yi-Chia Schmaeman at firstname.lastname@example.org.