June 2016
A monthly newsletter to keep you informed. Dig it.

Did you miss us?
It's a brand new month and a brand new   newsletter! 
And it's more exciting than carving butter sculptures .  

Oh Happy Day  

So many great things  to share- Website Changes, a Team Spotlight, Staff Announcements, FRC Championship Announcements, Upcoming events, Practice field schedule   and more- whew !!

So hold on to your unicycle- 
a nd keep reading for these topics  and more.

And please pass this newsletter on to teams, parents and students!! 
(a web link is at the top of this email- the "click here")
To subscribe to the newsletter, just fill out this form.

Website Changes
In order to consolidate efforts and reduce confusion, the VirginiaFIRST and 
FIRST  Chesapeake websites will be merging later this summer

When complete, information for both  the 
Virginia FIRST  FTC program and  the  
FIRST  Chesapeake FRC programs  will be found on   www.firstchesapeake.org Both will be easily
                                    accessed from this one site.

THANK YOU for your patience during this transition!
. . .
We moved from the Science Museum into our own warehouse space. Please ask your school bookkeeper or team non-profit organization to change our mailing address for registrations or other payments to:

Virginia FIRST
8177 Mechanicsville Turnpike
Mechanicsville, VA 23111

Join us for tours of our new headquarters, information on volunteer roles, updates on the upcoming season, and free refreshments.

Wednesday, June 22nd, 5:30pm-7:00pm
Saturday, July 23rd, 11:00am-12:30pm

RSVP here

A FIRST Chesapeake Success Story - Fresh T.E.C.H.

Denise Lewis shares the journey of one team from the District of Columbia that has made an impact this season- Living Classrooms, FRC Team 4242 - Fresh T.E.C.H. (Technology Engineering Carpentry and Higher Learning)
Fresh T.E.C.H. with Booz Allen Hamilton executives in St. Louis

I'll start my story with some background information: 
Living Classrooms Foundation provides a fresh start and changes lives by teaching marketable job skills to students in under-served Baltimore-Washington communities. The Fresh Start program has been recognized for "best practices working with at-risk youth" and for embodying a "continuous improvement process." 

Fresh Start is a school; it is a 40-week job skills training program that serves out-of-school youth, ages 16-19. The program uses metal and wood work as a medium to teach reading, writing, math, history, and science, guiding students to earn a high school equivalency diploma. 

Click the video below and learn how The Fresh T.E.C.H.(Technology Engineering Carpentry and Higher Learning, Team 4242) uses robotics as a teachable moment for students earning their GED:

Fresh TECH and Fresh Start
The Fresh Start program
As a result of participating in monthly workforce development initiatives in southwest DC, I met Travis Ellis. On October 15, 2015, I sat at the desk of Travis, Fresh Start Program Director and coach of the FIRST Robotics Competition team from Living Classrooms. It had been four years since I first visited their southwest DC location to share a grant opportunity and encourage them to start a rookie team in the 2012 season.
Travis still respectfully calls me "Miss Denise". His familiar bright smile was not there as we met that morning. He was faced with the loss of two Department of Transportation mentors, Abby Morgan and Andrew Magaletti, who were taking on new positions and relocating. He was also dealing with a lack of student participation and engagement, and he was considering narrowing the scope of their involvement as a FIRST team to redirect those efforts towards the workforce development goals of Fresh Start.
Honestly he was hesitant to register his team for the FIRST Stronghold season. I told Travis that I believed in him, as I have from the beginning. I asked him to have faith that I would find help and funds for his team. I explained our transition to district events, and before I left his office, I registered as the team's alternate coach temporarily so that they could secure slots at two district competitions.
And how did they do? I'm happy to say FRC Team 4242 truly excelled this season. Despite many obstacles, including recruiting mentors, Fresh T.E.C.H.s received a hardship grant this season and received support from Department of Transportation and Booz Allen Hamilton mentors. This very small team advanced to the semi-finals and won a Judges Award at our inaugural FIRST Chesapeake District event in Northern Virginia. They went on to win a Quality Award at the Greater DC district event, dominated the qualification rounds, served as Captain of Alliance #2 and most likely would have been ranked #1 if all 78 qualifying matches had been played.
Our transition to district events is already eliciting improvement in the performance of District of Columbia teams. The Fresh T.E.C.H.s were one of three DC teams to advance to the FIRST Chesapeake District Championship sponsored by Booz Allen Hamilton at the University of Maryland, including District of Columbia Public School Phelps Architecture Construction & Engineering HS (FRC Team 2912 - Panthers - ranked 53 out of 132 teams) and a private school, St. John's College High School (FRC Team 4456 - Mech Cadets - ranked 50 out of 132 teams). Phelps emerged as the Winner of the Greater DC District Event, and St. John's won the Northern Maryland District Event. 
And if that wasn't great enough, Fresh T.E.C.H. traveled to St. Louis to participate in the 2016 FIRST Championship! Ranking 19 among the 25 teams that represented FIRST Chesapeake, they were the only team from the District of Columbia to advance. 
Enjoying a meal in St. Louis and sharing stories from the season

Preparing the robot for competition on Carver Field


The Fresh Start program was created to change and improve lives, and their robotics team proves one can excel if one tries. Fresh T.E.C.H. is fortunate because their academic program is very flexible and their close proximity to the United States Department of Transportation and the Navy Yard opens up all kinds of possibilities for the future. 

I anticipate even greater results for Fresh T.E.C.H. FRC Team 4242 in the years to come.

- Denise Lewis           

Fresh T.E.C.H. FRC team 4242 can also be found on the web and on Facebook.

Why should you be a 2017 FIRST Chesapeake District season Host Team?
These are some advantages seen by "Host Teams" during the 2016 season


  * No travel expenses for this event

  * Fundraising opportunity- concessions/team lunches earn

      $5,000 or more

  * Showcase your team to the public and area businesses

  * Involves school administration

  * Involves other school organizations

  * Team building activity


The site selection process has begun 
for FRC 2017.  You should consider hosting!  
FIRST Chesapeake / VirginiaFIRST is hiring! 
Multiple, exceptional leadership roles available in FTC, FRC, Community Engagement/Volunteer management, and VISTA positions.  
Detailed descriptions of open jobs can be found here:  

Alumni Spotlight: Bob Scheid
Where are you working now and what is your current position?

Right now I'm working for Honeywell Technology Solutions, Inc. at the Goddard Space Flight Center as a spacecraft engineer for Landsat 8.  I'm one of the rubber-meets-the-road guys who helped assemble the satellite, turned it on for the first time when it got into orbit, and now I monitor and fix the onboard computers, radio antennas, and flight software.

Did FIRST play a role in your current career path?

I only did FIRST for one year in high school, but it was what really got me interested in putting things together with my own hands, and my love for electromechanical doohickeys.  I don't know if any of the specific technical skills I used followed me into my career, but the program management, timelines, teamwork, and systems engineering I learned has definitely given me a leg up in the real world.

Do you think FIRST can encourage young people to follow a STEM path in college and beyond?

Absolutely! FIRST Robotics is what proves to students that STEM is more than a binder with notes from a blackboard.  Knowledge and skills are directly applied, not in a frictionless vacuum, but to a real system and for a real objective, and the feeling of reward that comes from the achievement of fielding a robot is a high point of a young STEM student's life.

Alumni Updates
Even though school just let out, things are starting to perk as I plan and prepare for the next season!!
  • Interested in helping plan an alumni event in your area? Please contact me today. 
  • Interested in joining the Alumni Student Organization at your University? Please contact me today for more information.
I look forward to hearing from you.

~ Julie Miller, FIRST Chesapeake/ VirginiaFIRST Alumni Coordinator  
FIRST Chesapeake/ VirginiaFIRST Warehouse Open to Teams This Summer
Interested in using the FRC or FTC competition fields over the summer? 

The Virginia FIRST warehouse will be open 9am- noon one Saturday a month, June-August 2016. (See events calendar below)

Please contact Glen Davis (804) 928-3506 or gdavis@virginiafirst.org for more information and to make reservations. No walk-ins!
New CHS Mentors Facebook Page

If you are a FIRST Chesapeake Mentor, you are invited to joing the  CHS Mentors Facebook page

This group was created  to open communication between the CHS mentors  to assist in resources, questions, and general support of each other. Please feel free to invite other mentors from the district!!

Click here to register: rumbleintheroads.com/swapmeet

Robots in the Garden
The FIRST Tech Challenge robots invaded Richmond's Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens Memorial Day Weekend ! Along with the LEGO sculptures planted around the gardens, the FTC robots were a big hit among garden attendees.  Thousands passed by our FTC field, with hundreds of kids of all ages stopping to drive our robots and earn their robot drivers license. What a great day for  FIRST  awareness and showing what fun STEM can be!

Be sure to stop by the Gardens on June 18th to see local FTC teams and on July 9th to see the FIRST Robotics team demo!
Hails and Farewells
This month we say goodbye to some staff and board members. 
  • Carol Edelman, Director of FTC Program, is 
    retiring at the end of June. She began her FIRST journey as a parent and coach in 2002, moving up to various program director positions, and has been in her current position for the past 5 years. Carol's organizational skills, her eye for details, and her vast knowledge of FIRST will be greatly missed.
  • Sally Sylvester, Director of FRC Program, is also retiring at the end of June. Sally was previously involved with FLL, was a  FIRST Senior Mentor in Virginia 2009-2013, and just last year she was honored with a distinguished spot in the 2015  FIRST Senior Mentor Emeritus Program. Sally forged a new path in Virginia as we transitioned to the FRC District Model- we are all very grateful!
  • Outgoing Virginia FIRST Board Members:  Rich Conti Connie Nyholm Samantha Marrs , and  Rick Ramsey We appreciate your time, your dedication to VirginiaFIRST/ FIRST Chesapeake, and your passion for STEM learning, and wish you well!
And we have some good news to share.
  • We say hello to a new  FIRST VISTA in Virginia-  Alison Palmer ! We'll tell you more about her next month. She will start in late June.
  • Carol Edelman has accepted a position at FIRST HQ as a FIRST Tech Challenge Partner Services Manager. Retirement can't keep her down!
Off-Season and Upcoming Events Calendar
Here are some upcoming FIRST and STEM-related events. Click through the links  for more information. 
  • June 25- FIRST Chesapeake / VirginiaFIRST team use of FRC or FTC warehouse competition fields (VirginiaFIRST warehouse- Mechanicsville, VA). 9:00am - 12 noon.
    • Questions, or for more details call or email Glen Davis (804) 928-3506 
  • July 16- FIRST Chesapeake / VirginiaFIRST team use of FRC or FTC warehouse competition fields (VirginiaFIRST warehouse- Mechanicsville, VA). 9:00am - 12 noon.
    • Questions, or for more details call or email Glen Davis (804) 928-3506
  • Aug 20- FIRST Chesapeake / VirginiaFIRST team use of FRC or FTC warehouse competition fields (VirginiaFIRST warehouse- Mechanicsville, VA). 9:00am - 12 noon.
    • Questions, or for more details call or email Glen Davis (804) 928-3506
  • Sept 24- FRC Battle o' Baltimore (McDonough School, Owings Mills, MD)
    • Teams registering before Aug 1 receive $50 discount
    • $100 discount for pre-rookie teams!
  • Sept 24- FTC Workshops (Details TBA)
  • Oct 22- FRC IROC (Battlefield High School, Haymarket, VA)
    • Discounts possibly applicable- see registration form
  • Oct 22- FRC  Duel on the Delaware (Salem Community College- Carneys Point, NJ) 
    • Teams registering and sending payment before June 15 receive $50 discount
  • Nov 5- FRC Rumble in the Roads (Menchville HS, Newport News, VA)
    • Discounts possibly applicable

Learn more about volunteering with FIRST Chesapeake here.
FIRST Chesapeake FRC Season Survey

We would like to get your personal reflections and suggestions about this past 2016 FIRST Chesapeake FRC District Season.  We need your impressions on the season as a whole.  If you could take just a few minutes to review the questions via the link below and provide your feedback, it will go a long way to help improve the planning process.  

Also, if you are willing to serve on a planning committee, there is information on how you can participate and make a positive difference:

Team Outreach Opportunities

Denise Lewis is  recruiting teams for two big summer events. 

Come on out, lend a hand!
  • YMCA Thingamajig Invention Convention (July 28)
  • MPD- Beat The Streets- DC, 2016
    • 6/22/16, 7D (13th & Congress St. SE WDC)
    • 6/29/16, 1D (200 N. St. SW, King Green Leaf Rec)
    • 7/6/16, 6D (Division Ave. NE, near Marvin Gaye park area)
    • 7/13/16, 3D (1700 block of 8th St NW)
    • 7/20/16, 5D (600 Evarts St. NE)
    • 7/27/16, 4D (1400 block of Quincy)
    • 8/11/16, 3D (14th & Clifton NW, BTS-Back to School
For questions or more information, 
please contact Denise Lewis  dlewis@firstinspires.org 

FIRST Chesapeake has its own dedicated website:  www.firstchesapeake.org

Check it out and find out about the FRC District Model Competition for Virginia, Maryland and D.C.

Make sure you come back often for new information, 
announcements and updates.

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Like us on Facebook
Did you know we have TWO Facebook pages and a Twitter feed? 
Keep up with all things VirginiaFIRST and FIRST Chesapeake by liking and or following all our social media accounts! 

Quick Links:   Website   Donate   Volunteer   
    Science Matters      YouTube