The Killer Bees use an application and interview process to select students for the FRC team. Any student at our school can participate on our training and development programs. We participate in VEX leagues and the Oakland County Competitive Robotics Association to immerse our students in the engineering and problem-solving processes and as training for building the larger FRC robots.
All outreach and training activities are voluntary for students. At Notre Dame Prep, the students are encouraged to participate in a wide variety of clubs, athletics, music, drama and other interests. The Killer Bees structure our meeting times to accommodate students and allow students to “come and go” during the offseason as they need.
August / September – Select team members and begin orientation for new members
Killer Bee Interviews – Each student who applies is interviewed by an engineering and non-engineering mentor. Returning students are asked to reflect on their contributions from the previous year(s) and to discuss their goals for the upcoming year. For new students, the mentors ask questions about their interests and previous teams to see if the student will benefit from participation on the team. Due to the room limitations at our build site, not all students who apply are invited to the FRC team. However, all students can participate in the training and development leagues throughout the fall season.
September, October and November – Training and Development program with engineering challenges and competitive league play; Outreach activities
The FRC team as well as NDP students with a general interest in STEM and robotics participate in one or both robotics development leagues.
The Oakland County Competitive Robotics Associated (OCCRA) is designed to help students learn how to work with an engineering challenge with a limited set of materials and time to build a competitive robot. This league is much different than FRC, as it is entirely student-run. Students design, build and compete with 115 pound robots with minimal mentor involvement. Mentors may make suggestions and teach tool-handling or electrical wiring, but only the students must work on the final product. Students from high schools across the county meet for five competitions, accumulating points to be crowned as the County Champion. Additionally, students may submit for the OCCRA Foundation Award, which recognizes the top team in the county that combines robot performance and off-field activities in the areas of STEM.
To engage the new Bees in learning about engineering, we participate in the VEX High School Robotics league. These smaller, table-top sized robots are perfect for students to learn about how to build a robot with pre-fabricated parts. The VEX curriculum is easily accessible and provides many step-by-step guides to building a functioning robot. Mentors have minimal involvement with this challenge also, so that our students really “learn by doing”. To encourage a competitive level of play, our team hosts a state tournament qualifying High School VEX tournament each year, with 30 other teams in our area.
Our VEX teams also submit for judged awards.
Outreach activities to encourage internal team building, STEM awareness and community interaction are produced by the students. Mentors support student initiatives to help other teams build their “farm teams” through FTC, FLL and Jr. FLL, encourage younger students especially girls to consider STEM interests and provide relief for the hungry in our community.
December – Wrap Up, Inventory and Reflect
Each December we take some time to wrap up any projects and testing that we may be doing. We start doing inventory once the VEX and OCCRA equipment comes back to our main build space and we begin ordering materials that we know we will need for the FRC season.
The OCCRA End of Season banquet is during December and we also nominate students from the team for the OCCRA Most Improved Student Award and the All-County teams.
January / February- FRC Season Kickoff and Build
Students and mentors gather along with our sponsors to watch the Kickoff video and begin to brainstorm and prototype designs for the game. We build 5 days per week, taking most Fridays and Sundays off for family and homework. Towards the end of the build season, we are known to put in some very long days and nights. Students are required to attend at least 2 meetings per week, complete school required service hours and keep their grades up. We also build 2 robots, one for competition and one for practice. The practice robot is an identical vehicle to work out software bugs, test new designs and make improvements. This also allows us to do component testing so we have an understanding of what components may need some adjustment and/or replacement on the competition robot. Drive team practice continues with the practice robot to test new strategies and keep skills sharp. We compose our awards submission packages after kickoff, incorporating all of our outreach and team activities. The awards submission packages and outreach activities are created and produced exclusively by the students with minimal mentor oversight.
March / April – FRC Competition Season and Continuous Improvement
We are in the district system, which means we play at least 2 events within our state to qualify for the Michigan State Championship. The top teams at the State Championship are invited to the World Championship. During this time, we attend competitions, watch other competitions and have daily drive team practice with the practice robot. We refine mechanisms, replace worn out parts and continue focusing on being competitive.
May – Enjoying our success and Saying goodbye
In May, we have a team picnic to celebrate our successes. We say goodbye and good luck to our seniors and take some time to have fun. And take AP tests and semester finals.
June / July / August – Outreach and Team Development
In the summer months, the team will participate in local and out-of-state tournaments with the FRC robot. At these events, we may try out different combinations of team members as the drive team and pit crew. Our seniors will come back for one last tournament at the Indianapolis Robotics Invitational, the All-Star Game of FRC. We design and schedule outreach events, working within the Purple Alliance to strengthen the bonds between teams for a common cause. We will also participate in school based events to meet the new students and get ready for the next season. We may take this time to develop and prototype new systems, including drive trains or programming.