High school teams receive product design crash course from Professor Sarah Rottenberg

Two dozen high school robotics team members gathered virtually on Monday for a crash course in product design led by Professor Sarah Rottenberg, Executive Director of the Integrated Product Design Program at the University of Pennsylvania.

The students, representing the FIRST Robotics Competition teams from Central High School and Science Leadership Academy/Masterman High School in Philadelphia, plus Cheltenham High School, are tackling the FIRST Innovation Challenge which, this year, invites teams to “Identify a problem or opportunity and design a solution to help people (or a community of people) keep, regain, or achieve optimum physical and/or mental health and fitness through active play or movement.”

The crash course explained the product design process, highlighting the differences between a need-based process and a solution-based process that the teams are more used to.

Watch the recorded product design crash course on YouTube.

Teachers to Explore Naval Engineering in new Summer Program

The Philadelphia Robotics Coalition has partnered with Naval Surface Warfare Center Philadelphia Division to launch the Naval Education Workforce Training (NEWT) Program in summer 2021.

The program gives teachers a unique opportunity to gain hands-on experience, learning engineering skills and conducting research side by side with Navy engineers and scientists. This 8-week summer program will give teachers a taste of life as a professional engineer, and give them crucial insights that they will be able to bring back to their classrooms. Teachers will work with Navy mentors to develop demonstrations and curriculum materials to use in their classrooms.

Four teachers will be selected for the 2021 cohort. Each will receive will receive a $10,000 stipend for the 15-month program, and continued mentorship throughout the academic year including a classroom visit to give students a chance to interact directly with STEM professionals.

View the full details below, and apply by January 31st at bit.ly/newt2021.


Subaru of America Foundation Supports Coalition Programs

We are pleased to announce that the Subaru of America Foundation has awarded the Philadelphia Robotics Coalition a $10,000 grant to support our robotics team programs!

Nailah Shabazz
Student Nailah Shabazz at the Pennsylvania FIRST Tech Challenge Championship, March 2020.

The Subaru of America Foundation aims to support the work of organizations that are empowering the growth and development of children and young adults through career exploration with relevance to job readiness and job skills training.

The Foundation focuses its efforts on the communities where Subaru employees live and work, so our location, just across the Delaware from Subaru’s national headquarters in Camden, NJ is right in their backyard.

Thank you, Subaru, for supporting the students of Philadelphia!

Coalition Teams Advance to CoderZ Playoffs

Though our teams can’t meet in person this year, that hasn’t stopped them from learning and competing from home. High school teams are competing in the CoderZ Pro League, a virtual robotics competition where students learn to code a simulated robot using Blockly or Python.

View the Topplebot challenge reveal video:

Through the preliminary stage and the group stage, individual students played their code against an AI opponent. The two highest scoring teams from each group have advanced to the playoffs where they will face off 1:1 with other teams from around the country.

Five of our Coalition teams have qualified for the playoff rounds:

  • RoboLancers COBOL from Central High School
  • RoboGriffins from Academy @ Palumbo High School
  • Parkway RoboHounds from Parkway Center City Middle College
  • GenBots from Constitution High School, and
  • RoboLancers FORTRAN from Central High School

The playoffs are a single elimination bracket tournament. The first round will be streamed live on Twitch on Thursday December 17. Join us!

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.