We are a nonprofit organization, based out of Leland High School, that builds robots. By doing so, we build vital qualities such as teamwork and leadership, while also increasing our aptitude for mechanical, electrical, and programming endeavors, and simultaneously giving back to our community. We make our robots to compete in the annual FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition in Science and Technology) Robotics Competition (FRC.) In an only six-week build season, we get a challenge and have to build, program, and wire a robot almost completely from scratch to fulfill that competition's parameters. Some past examples are 2006's challenge, "Aim High," which was a cross between basketball and soccer, and 2007's challenge, "Rack & Roll," which was essentially a high, 3-D game of tic-tac-toe. A fundamental theme in all competitions is that of teamwork, as each robot is randomly paired with two others, making a 3-robot "alliance," before going to compete with a similarly-paired 3-robot alliance. Another common theme is that of gracious professionalism (sportsmanship), as even robotic teams that were competing against each other on the playing field are expected to help each other out off the field.
During the same 6-week period when the robot is being built, a separate competition is taking place. The FIRST animation challenge makes the animators on the team create a 30-second animated film clearly illustrating the required topic. In 2007, the topic was "Preserving the Environment," and animations ranged from ones about global warming to ones about alternate energy to ones about recycling.
The most prestigious award, however, is not for the best animation or even the best robot. The highly coveted Chairman's Award is given to the team who does the most in their community to further robotics and engineering. In 2007, we were honored to receive this award at the Silicon Valley Regional, the first and most competitive regional in the West. We have started and mentored 3 Lego Robotics teams in middle and elementary schools, and have started and mentored a Robotics Team in Presentation High School. We do numerous presentations, and we have done much work at a home for the elderly. We also make sure to teach and involve our own members about and in everything we do.
There is, of course, only one reason we do this: it's amazingly fun.