FIRST Robotics Competition Update

Update – September 25, 2020

Sept. 24th FRC Update and Mentor Discussion Summary
Written by: FRC Director John Hobbins 

Dear FIRST® Community,

The purpose of this article is to provide FRC FAQ updates.
Dozens of mentors participated in the session posing important questions in response to the HQ Community News Update September 24, 2020. Here is a video link for the recording of the session along with mentor questions and answers to the questions by FIRST Robotics Canada. It is important to understand the fluid nature of the FRC season as responses and/or decisions communicated by FRC may change over time throughout the season ahead.

Is FIRST HQ discussing with FIRST Canada how District Championship qualifications will be determined depending on whether teams compete at one or two events?

  • HQ has not given direction to FIRST Canada at this point. However, HQ did say they will instruct districts around qualifications for district championships closer to January. Stay tuned for more information on this topic in future Mentor Discussion sessions and through usual social media forums.

Can you explain what is happening with grants for Rookie Teams?

  • We have been informed that rookie teams will be eligible to apply for and possibly receive grants. Amounts of these grants will be made available soon. As noted in the HQ Announcement, the rookie team registration is $3,000 USD which gets rookie teams a full kit of parts and access to all benefits of a registered team.  Stay tuned for more information on event fees for Ontario teams.

Can you comment on Rookie year two grants and if a team does not compete in the 2021 season, what happens to the grant funds?

  • Year two teams who completed the Lessons Learned process have received $2,000 USD in their HQ account. If a rookie team does not participate in 2021, the funds can be rolled over for 2022 registration.

Regarding the “no wheels on the carpet refund”, what if a team does not participate in 2021?

  • Teams who did not get their robots onto a competition carpet in 2020 have received a $1,000 voucher for use this season. If the team does not participate in 2021, the funds can be rolled over to the 2022 season registration.

Do we know where (what cities) events are being held? 

  • FIRST Canada continues to hold dates at all of our host event venues. Dates and host venues will be announced in the new year depending on number of registered teams and their locations.

What is best for FIRST Canada? Would you like us to register and then make the decision to pull out or participate later? Or is it better for you if we register when we know we can participate?

  • Teams are encouraged to register their team as early as possible (FRC team registration opens Oct.6).   Registration fees are significantly reduced this year and there are many virtual activities for your teams to participate in this fall with significant prizes.  
  • There are many benefits to registering early.  Team registration includes access to INFINITE RECHARGE at Home, Innovation Challenge, Game Design Challenge, judged awards and more. Teams who are not registered may miss out on opportunities to participate in the Challenges and awards planned by HQ. Please reference the Sept. 24 announcement for further information on the benefits of registering. 
  • FIRST Canada benefits tremendously when we have data around team registrations which significantly helps with our planning. Teams are able to register and activate their team dashboard prior to the registration payment deadline. 
    Note: FIRST Canada does not want any schools or teams to take any action that would put them in conflict with their schools.  We hope that given this fee covers virtual activities that teams will be allowed to register without any issues.

What is the date that we need to pay for the registration?

  • Payment deadline information to be shared with the community sometime in mid-October.  There will be more flexibility in this area compared to years past.

Further clarification on dates and fees. Will teams need to pay for in-person events prior to Kickoff  and HQ’s determination of in-person events in January.

  • No, teams are not required to pay for in-person events prior to the January 9th kickoff. Event payment fees and payment deadline would be announced when actual event dates and venues are announced.

The physical build is THE most difficult part of FRC.  We have been virtually meeting since April for both Admin and Software. Build is the issue. Are there any ideas around engaging teams and students in robot build activities?

  • There are the Recharge Your Bot Challenge presented by FIRST Canada that are being released on Oct. 1st and will be discussed in detail on FIRST Canada LIVE! on Tuesday October 6th at 7:00 pm. FIRST HQ will be releasing information around their challenges; INFINITE RECHARGE at Home, Innovation Challenge and Game Design Challenge.

We are trying to come up with curriculum that our sub-teams can do in an online-only environment. This could be an opportunity for more inter-team sharing and training. I really liked the online showcases you (FIRST) put on in the spring.

 

  • We will continue to provide FIRST Canada LIVEI episodes every Tuesday night at 7:00 pm on the FIRST Canada Twitch channel to keep our community engaged and informed. 
  • FIRST Canada is working on developing curricular activities along with SHSM-related Training and Certifications that will be connected to FIRST programs. 
  • The FIRST Canada Curriculum Development Team will meet Thursday Oct. 1, 7pm – Zoom Meeting https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82397539392 Meeting ID: 823 9753 9392
  • All FRC and FTC teacher mentors are invited to this curriculum session to participate in the discussion and to share curricular resources.

 

 

Will we have an online channel to discuss this virtual build / meeting for these sub teams?  We in Waterloo can share and want to know what others are doing.

  • This is a great idea that we fully support. FIRST Canada will be setting up a Mentor SLACK group to provide a forum for sharing Best Practices between teams. Stay tuned for more information on this in the near future.

If we are promoting that teams meet virtually, because build is difficult, can some competitive events be set up for teams to compete for online activities to work on with the students.  This will give the mentors some direction.

  • There are the Recharge Your Bot Challenges presented by FIRST Canada that are being released on October 1st and will be discussed in detail on FIRST Canada LIVE!  on Tuesday October 6th at 7:00 pm. FIRST HQ will be releasing information around their challenges; INFINITE RECHARGE at Home, Innovation Challenge and Game Design Challenge in the near future.  If any teams have ideas or activities that they feel teams would enjoy participating in, please contact John.hobbins@firstroboticscanada.org 

What types of safety measures will be in place at district events to calm the fears of parents?

 

  • HQ Safety Protocols guide is available but will continue to updated going forward – Covid-19 specific guidelines can be found here: Safety Guidance for FIRST Robotics Competition Teams for COVID-19
  • FIRST Canada has posted safety guidelines for FLL Challenge and FTC here
  • FRC will continue to develop enhanced Safety protocols which will meet or exceed local Public Health guidelines. Stay tuned for FRC Safety protocols to be released well in advance of any events. We are looking into gathering effective Safety Practices that are employed in FRC environments and will compile them into a document to share out to the community.

 

 

Has FIRST Canada given any thought to team travel concerns as they plan the season ahead

  • We have our current event host venues scheduled which are strategically planned to help reduce travel for teams. If event locations change for any reason, the new locations would be decided with sensitivity to minimizing team travel.

Which FIRST students are eligible for FIRST Scholarships this season?

  • FIRST Scholarships are available to anyone who has participated on a FIRST team at any time. For rookies team members (first time doing FIRST ) the team would need to be registered this season to be eligible. Full details are available along with much more information on the FIRST Scholarship website: https://www.firstinspires.org/community/scholarships/scholarships-faq

FIRST Conference Dates

  • 2056 Ways to Inspire Conference Oct 3, 4.  Details coming out very soon at www.2056.ca 
  • Virtual FIRST Gateway Conference Oct. 16 and 17 – Please join 1305!
  • SWATposium date is November 28th.
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