In 2012, we had the opportunity to meet Alex, an 11-year old boy that is like many other boys his age, likes to play video games, likes to tease his kid sister and wishes he didn’t have to do homework. Alex however has another challenge in his life, he is wheel chair bound because suffers from a form of muscular dystrophy with no cure. When Make-A-Wish asked Alex what wish he could have come true his first request was “world peace” and he really meant it. Since that was something Make-A-Wish could not deliver he had to rethink that wish. It took him a couple of months to decide on seeing robots helping people, helping them walk or help in any way they can. This lead Alex to a couple of days full of robots with professors and a flash mob and University of Washington, surgeons with a surgical robot in action, police officers with bomb diffusing robots and high school student and mentors that are members of a robot team.
In February F.I.R.S.T. team 488, also known as team XBot, was honored to make Alex an honorary team member. While Alex spent the day with Team XBot he got to drive the robot, shoot baskets with the robot, and make something with a laser cutter. Alex really enjoyed his time with the team and the team was really taken with his “permagrin” and his happy attitude given the adversity he has to face. The team surprised Alex with his very own Lego Mindstorm robot but that was not all.
The final part of Alex’s wish was fulfilled on March 23rd at the Seattle Regional F.I.R.S.T. Robotics competition where he got to announce the start of the competition. Alex spent the first day watching his teammates compete and really enjoying himself. He got to see his team in 1st place after one day of competing and he even lead the team in their own chant a few times. After taking a break for lunch he told his mom that “this is the best day of my life.”
Alex was so excited he even came back to the second day of the competition which was difficult for him because he has limited energy. It was a good thing he did come back though because he got to see an exciting day as his team finished qualifications in 2nd place after an exciting final round; team XBot lost by one point! When awards were being announced after the competition was over, we found out that team XBot was awarded the Regional Chairman’s Award, the most prestigious award a F.I.R.S.T. robotics team can win. Such a magical time for both Alex and Team XBot and Team XBot wants to continue the magic when the team goes to St. Louis on April 27th and 28th to vie for the Global Chairman’s Award. Team XBot is happy to announce that they will bring Alex and his family with the team to St. Louis because at this point Alex is more than a teammate “he is a good luck charm.”
Team XBot can really relate to Alex as they both have had to deal with some adversity. Team XBot is comprised of kids of all categories (33% female students, 50% of bilingual students, 48% students from single parent households, 70% free and reduced lunch, 95 % of students of color) and strives to give everyone an equal chance at engineering and science-technology education. They also spend many hours giving back to the community by teaching elementary students about S.T.E.M. (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) using Lego kits and we have gone to countless community events to spread the word about the importance of technology in education.
Part of Team XBot’s relationship with Alex is an attempt to spread the word about the importance of S.T.E.M. education. Hopefully with efforts like F.I.R.S.T. we can produce new set of young scientist and engineers that can invent devices to help Alex walk again or even find a cure for his disease.
If you believe in what Team XBot is doing and would like to help support them as they take Alex and go to the Global F.I.R.S.T. Competition you can donate here.
More information about Alex's Wish is here.
We strive to assist and support other FIRST teams in any way possible, including
We embrace opportunities to represent FIRST in the public, specifically showcasing our FTC and FRC robots at the Boeing tent at Seafair, the FIRSTWA filming, the Renton Art Fair, the Asian Pacific Islander Event, the Everett Vintage Airplane Show, and Seattle Robotics Society’s Robothon. Xbot students presented their work at the Society for the Advancement of Material and Process Engineering exhibition. We visited to recruit mentors and students at the Bremerton Shipyard; the Woodinville Library; and F5.
We have developed and administered workshops at Seattle-area elementary schools using LEGO’s WeDo Robotics system. In the fall, our programming/animation student leader taught introduction to programming to students at Maple Elementary in Beacon Hill. Two students from Team XBOT visit Beacon Hill Elementary School and Martin Luther King Elementary School helping to establish after school WeDo Robotics programs.
During the summer of 2010, our programming mentor taught Lindberg High School’s rookie FRC team alongside our interested students, the basics of electrical and programming instruction, using our 2010 FRC robot as a platform. We hosted a series of summer workshops, which focus on STEM topics and include hands-on building of robot chassis, skills assessment testing and field trips to local industrial and engineering companies. These educational workshops allow up to 20 students to design, build and test a variety of LEGO Mindstorm robots and compete in fun, real-world challenges. Throughout five weeks during the summer, students are introduced to different types of robots that exist in industry, military and for entertainment purposes; learn to keep an engineering notebook of drawings, aha-moments and documentation of robot designs; learn about mechanical advantage, torque and power; learn how to solder; discover the uncertainty of measurement; prepare tabular representation and interpret results; and build a robot to compete in a challenge.
During the 2011 FRC season, we reached out to rookie team Cleveland High School (CHS) with help on programming and the basics of a how a FIRST team should work to be successful. Our programming mentor has spent hours helping students and mentors from Cleveland High School, with them coming to our meeting space at Microsoft in Redmond.
Team XBOT helped establish a Mini Machine shop at the Portland, Oregon and Microsoft/Seattle Regional events providing band saw, sander and drill press services to all teams especially assisting the rookie teams to complete their robot and pass inspection on time. The Mini Machine shop is manned by Team XBOT students.