Over the last weekend, dates June 14 – 17, eight students from our team went down to Washington DC to lobby with our very own regional representatives! We met with staffers from Senators Gillibrand and Schumer, and Representatives Maffei and Maloney. They were awesome! Kirsten Gillibrand has recently come up with three new bills to increase STEM education funding. Maloney was not one of our representatives, but he is from Orange County NY. His staffer was stunned to find out that they didn’t have any robotics teams in their area. We plan on working with him to change this!
Oh! A staffer is a person that works for the government official and takes important meetings and notes. The ones that met with us were very intelligent in their areas, and they all asked a lot of awesome questions. A few even had experiences on FIRST teams!
One of our most exciting occurrences on Tuesday was the ability to meet Louise Slaughter. She greeted us outside her office and enthusiastically welcomed us in. Did you know she has a B.S. in microbiology? And a Masters in Public Health? We didn’t, and that’s awesome! She explained to us about her STEM projects with the women she works with in Harris! In fact, she’s even thinking about writing legislation on our behalf to take funds from the H1B Visa and make them accessible to programs like FIRST!
To finish off our meeting with her, she showed us the amazing view she had from her window. She could see almost all of Capitol Hill! We followed this with a private tour of the Capitol, courtesy of Senator Gillibrand.
Of course, meeting with Government Officials isn’t all we did.
On Saturday, when we arrived, we went straight to the hotel to drop our things off. Then, we went on a tour of the mall! We saw the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, the Vietnam Memorial, the Korean Memorial, the World War Two Memorial, the FDR Memorial, and the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial! We walked well into the night! Personally, the Vietnam is my favorite.
Sunday started a day of learning! The First FIRST Advocacy Conference. Yay! We went to the seminar hall in the hotel and were greeted by Team 27, Team Rush. They are the 2014 FIRST Championship Chairman's Award Winners! Again, we would like to thank them for inviting us! They even fed us breakfast! We then all sat down, 18 FIRST teams from all over the US, and learned how to lobby our government. It started at noon and went ‘til five.
After that, we went to Arlington.
Arlington holds a special place in my heart, but I’ll try not to drag you into too much! We arrived just at the tail end of the changing of the guards and we sat around and watched until the next. It was incredibly peaceful, very powerfully moving, and eerily precise. After the final changing of the guards, we left.
Monday came and we learned much more about lobbying in an even longer time. This is when we began to script out what we would say to our representatives. After that session, all 18 teams went to the capitol building for a group photo.
Over all, the entire experience was absolutely incredible and Team 1511, Rolling Thunder (That’s us!), plan on making another appearance next year!
Welcome to the blog of Rolling Thunder, FIRST Robotics team 1511. The team is from Penfield High School in Penfield, New York and mainly sponsored by Harris Corp. To find out more about the team and FIRST, please visit the Who We Are page.