The first Saturday of every year is a very important day to FIRST Robotics students and volunteers.

January 6th, 2024 marks 1511’s twentieth year as a team, and that’s a big deal for us. We’re so excited to jump into this build season with a team that’s nearly 60% new students. If you’ll indulge me in my reminiscing for a moment, let me paint you a picture of what kickoff looked like eleven years ago (I wasn’t around on the team for all twenty!)

My freshman year was the 2012/2013 season (yes, the year FIRST learned that maybe frisbees weren’t a great idea when shot out of robots at 60 mph), and the team would meet at Penfield High School around 7 am. We would pile onto a school bus and head over to the Kodak Theater in Rochester, where we would eat complementary donuts and scroll through the different Wi-Fi hotspots that teens would set up. Eventually, it was time to file into the theater space (usually at standing room only), and wait for Dean and Woody’s faces to grace a big screen that usually had enough technical difficulties to last us the entire build season.

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Now, things work a little differently here at 1511! On Saturday, we arrived at around 11:30 am and piled into one of our school’s smaller auditoriums. As 12 pm grew closer and closer, we began to count down the minutes, until finally we were within the final sixty seconds! The excitement! The suspense! What bad puns would we hear this year? What strange, confusing hints would we see throughout the video?

And there is was – Crescendo. An uproar of chaos and excitement rippled through the team before we quickly hushed to hear every detail of this year’s game. For those of you who haven’t seen the game yet (where have you been?!), here’s the video!

Crescendo is a music themed game that spotlights the A in STEAM. We play the game with 14″ game pieces called “Notes,” and work together with two other teams to achieve “Harmonies” and to “Amp Up” our alliance’s “Speakers.” At the end of the game, our robots have the chance to get “Onstage,” which is where we hang or climb on a chain! Overwhelmed yet? We were, for a little while! Don’t worry, you’ll catch up with us as the season goes on.

Once the game was announced and the field tours ended, we (ate a quick lunch!) ran back upstairs and began to dissect the game manual. Our strategy subteam broke off to start working on our Mind map (we use MindMeister) while our mechanical students began basic prototyping to establish potential mechanisms. And that was all on Saturday!

By the end of Sunday, we had a finalized our mind map and had mostly finished our prototypes. We were able to connect via a Teams call on Tuesday to determine our next steps going forward. As of tonight (Thursday, the 11th), we’ve established swerve as our drive base and have started CAD for the drivetrain and our controls.

We’re all very excited for this season and can’t wait to show FIRST what we’ve got! Let’s get Amp’d Up!

-Atrisof (They/Them) – Alumni and Mentor of Team 1511

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