In 2007, 9 Middle School students participated in FIRST Lego League (FLL). Our coach was the mother of one of the students, and none of us had any previous robotics experience. We competed in the Arizona state FLL competition, finishing fourth. Coach Fredi Lajvardi of the Carl Hayden High School Robotics team suggested that we try NURC, the National Underwater Robotics Competition. PCDS Blue Tide, a rookie pre-high school team began working on the project in March 2008, building an ROV, named Lloyd, using the basic kit graciously provided by !nventivity. Following a full redesign and continuous testing, our team earned first place overall.
After the championship no one wanted the season to end. We began to look for ways to keep our team together and keep the spirit of FIRST alive for the next school year. In 2008, we decided to enter into our first FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC), which was entitled Lunacy. As a rookie team, we still made it to the semifinals at the Arizona regional. Even though those 9 original members have all left for college, the team still lives on. We have since earned many awards and continue to enter every year.
While we, like every other team in the competition, vigorously strive to the enter the FRC Finals (held in St. Louis last year), winning is not our primary goal. Over the years, we have viewed other teams and noticed that the heart of the team is not students but rather mentors. We realized that we did not want to be a mentor-run team but rather a student-run one. For this reason, our team’s motto is “Learn. Do. Teach.”, which states that first the student learns the skills, then he/she carries out his/her learning, and lastly he/she teaches another student. In no way is a mentor involved in this process unless no student on the team knows the process in which case the mentor is the teacher; otherwise he/she is simply an overseer to make sure nothing goes wrong.