FLL Junior Expo

On December 07, Team SPORK hosted an FLL Jr. Expo at our school, Pine Lake Preparatory. In addition to being an opportunity for FLL Jr. teams to have their projects reviewed and their successes celebrated, teams were able to participate in many fun activities.

FLL Jr. students created hoop gliders, BristleBots (vibration-powered toothbrush robots!), customized buttons, and were able to drive and play with SPORKReach.


Olympic FLL Competition

Team SPORK students and mentors volunteered at the Olympic High School FIRST Lego League Competition on Saturday, November 23. Our students refereed the robot matches along with students from teams YETI (3506), T-Rex (4935), and Bots on Wheels (4290), with our team captain, Scott, serving as Head Referee. Several of Team SPORK’s mentors and a returning alum were Judges for the event, evaluating teams’ performance in Robot Design, Project, and Core Values.


Week Five (and a half) Build Update

This past week and a half (oops, we forgot to post an update) was quite exciting. We made minor design changes to our different mechanisms, and have been finalizing the assembly of the practice robot. Electrical team finally got their hands on a robot, so they have done a lot of great work in the last week to get the robot running (it worked, too!). Our programming sub team is also getting a kickstart on our tele-op and autonomous programs for testing!

In addition to all of the work done with the robot, our awards team has also done some amazing work. In the past week, they’ve finished the chairman’s essay, wood flowers, and they’ve started our chairman’s video. Thanks to all of our amazing members and mentors, we are all buckling down to wrap up our robot.

As there are now only six days left before stop build day, Team SPORK is in a full frenzy to finish up our robots. We still need to mount our assembled climbing mechanism and finish the electrical work for mechanisms on the practice robot. Meanwhile, the Mechanical and Electrical teams will be working to finish the competition robot in time for stop build day (February 19th). Our hatch and cargo mechanisms are ready to install (for the most part), but climbing mechanism needs a fair bit of additional assembly before we install.

While the stop build deadline is quickly approaching, Team SPORK is optimistic about this next week. Cheers. – Justin Stephens, Team SPORK Director of Engineering

Week Four Build Update

The fourth week of build season is over, and Team SPORK is feeling good about our progress. A lot got done this weekend, despite several of our members missing some crucial work hours to volunteer at the North Carolina FLL State Championship. We have nearly completed the fabrication of our practice/prototype robot, with our Cargo, Hatch, and Climbing mechanisms nearing functionality. We are waiting for a final few parts to arrive before all the mechanical work is done. The Electrical team will soon begin installing the electrical components on the robot, and then the robot will be sent off to the Programming team. The Mechanical Team will, in the meantime, work on the construction of the competition robot, which we plan to have built by the end of Week 5.

In addition to all the fun engineering going on, our Awards team has been working really on finalizing our submissions for this year. We’ve completed our Chairman’s essay and are finishing up our Woodie Flower’s submission for our fantastic mentor, Mr. Dave Lashley. – Justin Stephens, Team SPORK Director of Engineering

Week Three Build Update

We’re half way through build season now, and things are starting to come together.

Our final robot design has been solidified, and our CAD team is now making sure all the last details are perfect before we begin building the robot for competition. Meanwhile, our Mechanical team has been doing some more work assembling the practice robot and giving feedback to the design squad on any changes that should be made for the competition one. The Electrical team, now knowing what components the final robot should include, has been finalizing their circuit diagrams for the robot, and will begin prepping components for installation soon. The Programming team has been working on vision tracking and laying out some of the skeletal code, making sure they will be ready to go once the completed practice robot is handed off to them.

In addition to all the robot building that’s been going on, our Awards and Animation teams have been working overtime to get all of our submissions in on time. They’ve done an awesome job with everything so far. Be sure to check out our 2019 animation in a few weeks!

This week hasn’t been all work; we have had our fun too. A few of our students took last year’s robot, SuperSPORK64, out for a spin at the NC TECH Conference in Charlotte, where they raised awareness of FIRST within the technology community. Thank you to NC FIRST for this awesome opportunity.

We still have a lot of work ahead of us before we see our design come to life, but the end is in sight. Cheers. – Justin Stephens, Team SPORK Director of Engineering

Week Two Build Update

Week two is over! Team SPORK has spent this past week working the last kinks out of our designs. While the CAD/Design team has been finalizing the robot design and drawing it, the Mechanical team has been constructing the chassis for the practice robot and building some additional prototypes of our Cargo, Hatch, and HAB climbing mechanisms. The other engineering teams, Programming and Electrical, have started planning out their systems, which we hope to start producing soon. The field construction team also finished up building the field models this week, giving our future robots a place to frolic.

In the next week, we hope to see our practice robot come together and start driving. Soon we will start the construction our Competition robot once we correct any issues that may arise while building the practice robot.

We’ve also had a couple frustrating setbacks and learning experiences. An out-of-square bandsaw gave us a fair deal of trouble with the alignment in our chassis, but nothing that couldn’t be fixed with a rookie-hour (yes, that’s a real unit) of labor. We also had a great deal of fun when the disk in the computer running our CNC router died, and so we had to replace the computer with one of the old CAD desktops. A couple of hours were spent reconfiguring the router and getting it in cutting order again.

Team SPORK is quite excited for the next four weeks of this 2019 season! – Justin Stephens, Team SPORK Director of Engineering

Looking at gearboxes

Week One Build Update

Week One of Build Season for the 2019 challenge, Destination: Deep Space, has certainly been a blast for Team SPORK. We started this past week off by analyzing the various elements and scoring strategies in this year’s challenge, and by discussing ways to tackle each problem. Our members have spent the week hard at work on designing and building.

The Mechanical team has created a slew of prototypes for manipulating Cargo (13″ balls) and Hatches (19″ disks), and have started construction on the field elements for our robots and prototypes to use. Meanwhile, CAD team has been tirelessly modeling our designs, models which will eventually be fed back to the Mechanical team to build. Additionally, our Electrical team has been drawing out some early circuit diagrams for our robot. The folks over at the Programming team have been busy too, working on our vision processing system to ensure our robots can easily line up to place game elements.

We also had a great time this Saturday by stepping away from the back-breaking FRC grind, and going as a team to volunteer at the Lawndale FLL competition, where our student and mentors helped by refereeing and judging. We loved seeing all the FLL students’ robots and projects!

Going forward, we hope to get some more building done and to start fleshing out our final robot design. Team SPORK is tremendously excited for the rest of Destination: Deep Space, and we can’t wait to see what the remainder of build season has in store. Cheers! – Justin Stephens, Team SPORK Director of Engineering

Some Team Members prototyping a potential design

Lawndale FLL Competition

Team SPORK volunteered at the Lawndale FIRST LEGO League Competition on January 12th, 2019. Our students served as Referees, Field resetters, and Queuers, while the mentors and loving parents volunteering with Team SPORK served as Judges for the FLL teams.

The adult and students from Team SPORK who volunteered at the 2019 Lawndale FLL Competition.

A handful of our extremely dedicated members and mentors made the trip to Lawndale the Friday night before the competition in order to set up so that the rest of the volunteers would be ready to roll at 7:00 sharp the following morning. A special thanks to the Lashley family for their hard work.

Scott Lashley lifting with his knees, not his back, when setting up for Lawndale the night before.

Some more photos from the event:


On October 27, 2018, Team SPORK attended the iMAGINE STEAMFest in Rock Hill, South Carolina. This annual festival promotes Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics.

While at the STEAMFest, Team SPORK ran a game with our robot, SPORKReach, where kids could take turns driving the robot. While not driving, they could throw beanbags into cascading rings (much like Skee-Ball).

Team SPORK also took our SPORKCannon and our 2018 robot, SuperSPORK64, which we demoed during two 15 minute stage shows. During the shows, we explained FIRST, FRC, the 2018 challenge, and some of the technical details of SuperSPORK64. We wrapped up each show by firing off a couple of T-Shirts.