Today we came together as a team and voted for the people who will help us succeed this year. We completely ecstatic to usher in our new student leaders and see what they are capable of. Not only are we glad to see our new leaders be elected, we are completely exhilarated to start our new build season with our freshmen who we hope will stay with us on this crazy ride through the next 4 years.
Team SPORK stands for Students Providing Outreach and Robotic Kinship. This means that we strive to inspire younger generations. We mentor many Jr FLL, FLL, and FRC teams, including well over 150 kids this year alone. It is exciting to see them grow in STEM and be so enthusiastic about robotics. They get so excited about everything to do with robotics, FIRST, and STEM. We love going to and running their competitions because the smiles on the children’s faces are so big and don’t fade the whole day. Even if they don’t win, they are happy about just being there and feel accomplished about where their robot and projects have gotten them. It is very touching when they talk about how they can’t wait to be in high school because they want to on Team SPORK. We are overjoyed to know that these kids understand the meaning of FIRST and it makes us want to continue mentoring them. We dedicate ten or more hours a week to mentoring FIRST students. Team SPORK is even home to the 2015 NC FLL Youth Mentor of the Year, Erin Lashley.
Today, Burns Middle School hosted a FLL regional competition. The competition consisted of 36 teams. There were 4 teams attending that were directly created by us. Out of those 4 teams, 3 of them are going to the state competition in January. A majority of the referees and judges at this competition were members of our team, and our very own Erin Lashley won the Youth Mentor Award for the second year in a row. She also aspires to win the Youth Mentor Award for the second time at the state level.
On November 14, Team SPORK competed in our school’s NovemberFest Chili Cook-Off. This is the first year our team has competed in the cook off, and it was a good way to reach out to our school and spread the word of FIRST. We had multiple generous donations throughout the night and had the chance to spread the word of FIRST to many students from K-12.
Team SPORK was given the opportunity to participate in the Barnes & Noble Mini-Maker Faire on Sunday, November 8. Students were able to share some information about FIRST and what Team SPORK is about with children and adults. We even held a mini robot design competition and gave the winners a SPORK shirt. It was a great opportunity to see the interest in STEM from people and teach them how they could help. It was overwhelming to see the amount of people who wanted to know how to help with FIRST and get their children involved in FIRST programs. Many adults were impressed to find out that a group of high school students were designing, building, and programming a robot in 6 weeks.
The Great Chili Cook-off is an annual event that was held on October 31 this year and hosted by The Rotary Clubs of Mooresville Lake-Norman, Mooresville, Top of the Lake and Troutman to benefit local charities. Top of the Lake Rotary Club president, Jeremy Katz, invited Team SPORK high school robotics team to provide some reliable hands and feet to support the event. The event raised $50,000 and had tons of fun things to enjoy like listening to the Back Road Band, shopping at local vendors booths, eating treats from local vendors and of course, tasting 50 different recipes of chili. Kids had their own “zone” to play in where some of our Team SPORK seniors volunteered their help. Team SPORK volunteers also spent the first part of the event running between competing chili vendors delivering cups, napkins and whatever else a chili contestant needed. Of course, none of that kept them from trying all of the chili too!
On October 10, our team had the chance to present at a Mini Maker Faire. A small group of us journeyed out to Charlotte’s Discovery Place with our trusty old Shooter McGavin from Rebound Rumble. We displayed our homemade 3D printers and created Team SPORK logos to give out, along with our pins and flashlights. While children fell in love with our robots and printers, parents and educators from other cities, counties, and even states fell in love with the program. We talked to countless individuals about starting their own Jr FLL, FLL, FTC, and FRC teams in their own schools and communities.