You can get involved with your community in many ways. For example, our team has done events like going to our team’s school to show off our robot, going to a local Halloween event with our robot and driving it around, etc. Your team could try setting up some events with your school, local businesses, and community events to advertise your team and sponsors, and promote STEM. We have also presented to schools about joining a robotics team, which helped more kids get into STEM, and got people to join our robotics team. Of course, there can only be 15 members on a team, but don’t let that stop you from making sister teams or encouraging other teams, as long as you keep them independent enough from your team.
How to Start a FIRST Team
There are some helpful resources on firstinspires.org about starting an FTC or FRC team. Click here for an article from FIRST about starting an FTC team, though we will summarize it here.
- Once you've learned about FTC and understand what you need, you should find mentors and coaches. You need two adult coaches/mentors to help lead your robotics team, and while it is good to keep your team student lead for some parts, you want coaches for organizing business, payment, organization, meetings, etc.
- Next, you'll create a FIRST account, register, pay, and order essential equipment. You may want to contact FIRST for more details and find someone who is willing to help get you started. It is also a good idea to apply for grants that can help with funding. After all, robots aren't cheap.
- Then, you'll want to recruit students. You can participate in community events, go to schools, etc, to find students willing to be on your team. Try to be diverse with who you choose, it is important to include different genders, races, and sexualities.
- Once you get students and registration figured out, you need to build a budget and acquire sponsors from local businesses. For example, the Cheesy Poofs is one of the best teams, partially since they work out of a NASA lab. More sponsors, and healthy sponsor relationships will help get you through all funding obstacles.
- Lastly, you'll want to look into the season, build and program a robot for it, continue looking for sponsors, set up social media and community outreach, and have your team respect the goals of FIRST and gracious professionalism.