Teams Compete at Philadelphia Scrimmage

Fifteen high school robotics teams competed Saturday in the FIRST Tech Challenge Philadelphia Scrimmage in Central High School’s gym. The teams have been working since September to design and build robots to play this year’s space-themed game, Rover Ruckus. In addition to the robot, teams expand their communication and teamwork skills, keep an engineering notebook, and prepare presentations for a panel of judges.

The Ambassadors from Bodine High School watch a match at the Philadelphia Scrimmage. Photo Credit: Art Jiang

The scrimmage was hosted by the Central High School RoboLancers in partnership with the Philadelphia Robotics Coalition, Pennsylvania FIRST Robotics, and the School District of Philadelphia. A FIRST LEGO League tournament for 4th-8th graders was held simultaneously in the other half of the gym, bringing a total of 40 teams and 100 volunteers together for a full day of friendly competition.

View a recap video of the whole event.

The scrimmage winners RoboLancers Gold from Central High School and Divide by Zero, a homeschool team from Harleysville, PA. Philadelphia’s FIRST Tech Challenge teams will return to Central High School on Saturday January 12th for the Philadelphia Qualifying Tournament to see which teams will advance to the state championship in March.

RoboLancers Gold from Central High School, the winning alliance captain climbs aboard the Rover Ruckus Lander with their alliance partner Divide by Zero from Harleysville, PA. Photo credit: Art Jiang

Philadelphia Robotics Coalition Honored by the Phillies

Philadelphia Robotics Coalition Executive Director Michael Johnson and Director at Large Sean Gallagher were honored guests at the Phillies Charities Holiday Party on December 6th in the Diamond Club at Citizens Bank Park. They were presented with the 2018 Community Hero Award and Grant, and had the opportunity to share their work with the other guests. And of course the Phillie Phanatic was on hand to join in the merriment.

Michael Johnson and Sean Gallagher meet the Phanatic at the Phillies Charities Holiday Party.

Philadelphia Robotics Coalition Named 2018 Community Hero by Phillies Charities, Inc.

The Philadelphia Phillies charity arm has named the Philadelphia Robotics Coalition a 2018 Community Hero and selected us to receive a $15,000 grant to further our robotics outreach work in Philadelphia.

The Phillies Press Office said “In honor of #GivingTuesday, Phillies Charities, Inc. is saluting dozens of local charities and organizations who are making an impact in the Phillies’ major league and minor league communities. All of these community heroes will be honored for their charitable efforts on Thursday, December 6, at the Phillies Charities, Inc. Holiday Giving Party at Citizens Bank Park. This special event will also recognize those who were selected to receive a 2018 Phillies Charities, Inc. grant, distributed so that their community efforts could continue.”

View the complete list of 2018 honorees here.

The Phillie Phanatic and friends met the Central High School RoboLancers and their robot at the 2018 Widener Day.

Press Release: Philadelphia Robotics Coalition publicly launches, seeks funding to expand impact

Already impacting 22 schools, the Coalition seeks $75,000 additional annual funding to increase reach to more schools across Philadelphia

September 22, 2018

PHILADELPHIA — Dr. William Hite, Superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia, joined with Philadelphia elected officials, philanthropic leaders and educators to help publicly unveil the Philadelphia Robotics Coalition and its $75,000 fundraising campaign to make robotics programs accessible to every Philadelphia public high school student.

The Philadelphia Robotics Coalition was quietly launched in 2016 to supplement STEM education in Philadelphia schools. It connects schools with financial resources and mentors to start and sustain FIRST robotics teams.

Teams supported by the coalition face off against other schools in the FIRST Tech Challenge in which they design and build robots that work together in teams to perform specific tasks. This year, the challenge is called Rover Ruckus — a space-themed game where robots mine ore on an imaginary planet to earn points.

Last year, thanks to support from the Neubauer Family Foundation, the coalition was able to serve students in 22 schools — running workshops and providing grants and mentors that expand engineering and science opportunities while teaching skills in leadership and teamwork.

“High-quality STEM education and robotics programs are extremely important because they help our students learn how to think critically, problem-solve, and ask questions about their surroundings,” said Dr. Hite. “They also help students prepare for meaningful college and career experiences, whether or not they pursue a STEM-related field. We are proud to partner with the Philadelphia Robotics Coalition to help expand these opportunities to more students across the city.”

Dr. Hite was joined at an event Saturday by City Councilman Bobby Henon, District students and teachers, Rebecca Cornejo, Executive Director of the Neubauer Family Foundation, and Michael Johnson, Executive Director of the Philadelphia Robotics Coalition and Central High School’s robotics coach.

The coalition was founded to ensure continued funding and support for science and engineering programs in Philadelphia during times of fiscal uncertainty. To confront this issue, the RoboLancers, Central High School’s robotics team, stepped up and launched the coalition to support a collaborative ecosystem that supports robotics teams through grants and mentorship.

“When I started at Central in 2014, the number of FIRST Tech Challenge teams in Philadelphia was dwindling,” said Johnson. “We launched this Coalition to bring stability and robust support to Philadelphia teams so that our robotics community could grow and flourish.”

The Neubauer Family Foundation stepped up and agreed to become the coalition’s first major philanthropic supporter, through a three-year $25,000 per year challenge grant.

“The Coalition has thus far exceeded all of the milestones set forth in our grant—engaging greater numbers of students, teachers, mentors and supporters than anticipated,” said Cornejo. “And, this is only the beginning. The Coalition has great potential to not only impact thousands of students in our city, but also provide a path for innovation in robotics and STEM education nationwide.”

The $75,000 the coalition seeks to raise will enable it to intensify its support for teams already in the program, building stability that will ensure their longevity, while also expanding the program to more schools across the city.

In addition to financial support, the coalition connects teams to adult engineers, tradespeople and other professionals who can serve as mentors to teams and inspire future careers in STEM. Last year, the coalition began a partnership with the U.S. Navy to provide mentors to teams in six schools.

“Mentors make all the difference for students looking to get involved with an exciting chance to get hands-on experience with STEM,” said Vicki Baker, the coach of the robotics team at the Philadelphia High School for Girls, which receives grant funding from the coalition. “I have witnessed students with no background in robotics, engineering or science for that matter learn the creative problem-solving process, dive into engineering design and win competitions. They have become eloquent public speakers, expert writers and have been transformed into conscientious students eager to pursue STEM careers and college.”

The Girls’ High team has been a consistent winner, qualifying for the state championship two years in a row. “For me, robotics has redefined the word ‘impossible’,” said Lynda Lam, a senior on the team. “‘Impossible’ no longer means we can’t. We’ve experienced success — now there are nothing but endless possibilities.”

Contact
Megan Lello, mlello@philasd.org
Michael Johnson, contact@roboticscoalition.org

Press Release: Central Robotics Coalition team captains winning alliance at Philly FTC qualifier

February 5, 2017 | For Immediate Release

The Philadelphia High School for Girls’ Technobots, led its alliance to victory in the Philadelphia FTC Qualifier on January 28th, 2017.

The Technobots are one of six teams supported by the Central Robotics Coalition, a new initiative of the Central High School RoboLancers to expand robotics programming in Philadelphia public schools. The RoboLancers work with these teams to provide funding, technical mentoring and business support to help them grow their own capacity.

The Technobots are now moving on to compete in the FTC State Championship competition at Dallastown Intermediate School on Feb. 25.

A second coalition team, Abraham Lincoln High School’s Lincoln1, reached the semi-finals as the captain for its two-team alliance.

In this year’s FIRST Tech Challenge competition, high school robotics teams have to work together in a series of shifting alliances to skillfully maneuver their robots to accomplish a variety of tasks within the two and a half minute Velocity Vortex game.

This was the first competition for the six teams which are part of the new Central Robotics Coalition. The Coalition is a new initiative of the RoboLancers to expand robotics programs to additional Philadelphia public schools. It provides funding, mentors, workshops and support to teams to create an ecosystem that introduces students to STEM.

In addition to Girls High School and Abraham Lincoln, teams that received grants from the Central Robotics Coalition include: Edison High School, Frankford High School, Parkway Center City, and the Workshop School.

The Coalition is initially funded through a transformative three-year challenge grant from the Neubauer Family Foundation, which promises $25,000 this year and up to $50,000 in matching funds for the second and third years.

This was the first opportunity these teams had to compete against other schools. Girls High School will go on to compete in the state championships — demonstrating the early impact of the coalition’s work with these teams.

All six teams that are funded by the coalition performed to the best of their abilities and showed the hard work and effort they put into their robots. While some of them will not be moving on to states, they still have time and resources to improve on their robot.

With this marks the end of the official FTC season for many of our Coalition teams, but there is still another exciting opportunity for teams! We will be holding an FTC off season event on May 13th at Central High School. We hope to see you there!

Media Contact
Michael Johnson | 267-666-0246 | contact@roboticscoalition.org

Press Release: New Robotics Teams Prepare for Competition

January 26, 2017, Philadelphia, PA, For Immediate Release

Twenty-six robotics teams from schools across Philadelphia are set to go head to head in a qualifying tournament at Central High School on Jan. 28.

Teams have to work together in a series of shifting alliances to skillfully maneuver their robots to accomplish a variety of tasks within the two and a half minute Velocity Vortex game as part of the First Tech Challenge, or FTC.

This will be the first competition for the six teams which are part of the new Central Robotics Coalition. The Coalition is a new initiative of the RoboLancers to expand robotics programs to additional Philadelphia public schools. It provides funding, mentors and support to teams to create an ecosystem that introduces students to STEM.

This gives students the opportunity to be exposed to diverse interests as they learn how to code, build robots and work on the business and social media aspects of their teams.

The Coalition was founded after cuts to Philadelphia robotics teams over the past several years caused many to disband.

Teams that received grants from the Central Robotics Coalition include: Girls’ High School, Edison High School, Abraham Lincoln High School, Frankford High School, Parkway Center City, and the Workshop School.

The event is free and open to the public.

The qualifying tournament follows a scrimmage hosted by the Coalition and Central High School on Jan. 14, where hundreds of students, ranging from 4th-12th grade all across the Philadelphia area, had a chance to get a feel for the game.

 

Event Schedule and Team List
http://www.ftcpenn.org/ftc-events/2016-2017-season/philadelphia-qualifying-tournament

Media Contact
Michael Johnson | 267-666-0246 | contact@roboticscoalition.org