2018 Apex Christmas Parade

2018 Apex Christmas Parade

For three years, we participated in the Cary Christmas Parade, spreading the message of FIRST to hundreds of people. The last two years, however, we decided to participate in Apex’s Christmas Parade instead. As late October and November rolled around, we began to prepare for our annual tradition.

Like previous years, we worked on incorporating elements from past games into our float. This year, we kept our geared 42s that we had last year and the train theme, but we updated the game elements that we used as presents, deciding to use a combination of the totes from 2015 and the cubes from the 2018 game. As the Apex Christmas Parade is at night, we also worked on decorating our float and robots with lights. Learning from last year, we added more lights to the robots and float and adjusted the positioning of the lights to make things more visible. A few meetings later, the float was finished.

On the day of the parade, the weather did not look promising. It was cold and wet (though that did not stop us from engaging in our favorite team game, Ultimate!), and we were not sure whether we would be able to run our robots. The wet conditions also meant that shooting frisbees and balls would not work well. Fortunately, we were still able to drive our robots with no damage to our electrical, and we also had less communication problems with our robots as a result of switching our robots over to an arduino system.

After packing up and hiking through the rain to a pick up location and then having to hike to another location, the day ended. The next day, we spent our time drying out our robots and treating them. Overall, the experience was fun, and we had several people recognize us from last year and telling us how impressed they were with us!

2017 Apex Christmas Parade

2017 Apex Christmas Parade

As the month of November set in, excitement for the Christmas Parade began to build. For three years, we have participated in the Cary Christmas Parade, spreading the joy of FIRST to hundreds of people. Our tradition of participating in a Christmas Parade continued this year, but unlike previous years, we decided to participate in Apex’s Christmas Parade.

Every year, we incorporate elements from the most recent game into our float. This year, the game had a steampunk theme. To connect the theme to the holidays, we decided to make our float into a Christmas steam engine. After finalizing a design, we immediately started to work on the float. To make our train, we used the gears from STEAMworks, elements from Recycle Rush, and a fog machine. Unlike the Cary Christmas Parade, Apex’s parade is at night. As a result, we also had to do some slight adjustments to the original float. For example, we decorated our robots and float in hundreds of lights to make them visible. A few meetings later, the float was finished.

On the day of the parade, we put the finishing touches on our float and headed to the queuing lineup. While waiting for the parade to start, we played a game of ultimate frisbee to pass the time and keep warm. After about an hour of frisbee, it was time for the parade to start. Despite a few communication and technical difficulties, the parade was quite successful! The team had a fantastic time, and many people told us how impressed they were with our demonstration!

2016 Cary Christmas Parade

2016 Cary Christmas Parade

A couple of weeks before Christmas, we participated in the Cary Christmas Parade for our third time, allowing us to showcase our robots and introduce our team to our community. To get ready for the parade, we all pitched in to decorate our robots and float with a ton of orange, blue, and holiday cheer.

During the parade, we had Ford, Benjy, and Trillian shooting balls and frisbees. While some of our students stayed on the float to control the robots, others walked the course, catching the flying objects from the robots and handing out candy. As with previous years, having our robots launch frisbees and balls through the air never ceased to amaze the thousands of kids and parents.

Overall, the team had a blast, and a lot of people told us that they were super impressed with our demonstration! This year’s Cary Christmas Parade was another enjoyable experience, and we had a ton of fun supporting and spreading FIRST and sharing our enthusiasm for STEM!

Mock Kickoff

Mock Kickoff

At the beginning of the year, our team spent the afternoon with FRC Team 3229, Hawktimus Prime, and did a “mock kickoff” to better prepare for the official the following week. For the first portion of the afternoon, we went over tips on what to focus on and look at first when starting the robot build process. Afterwards, the mentors selected the 2006 FRC game, Aim High, and had our two teams work with each other in smaller groups to come up with strategy, using what we learned from the strategy tips session. Later on, each group shared the strategies they had come up with and then started working on ideas of robot designs. This experience helped Hawktimus Prime, our team, and the new team members, especially, know what to expect at a kickoff as well as know what to do and look for when analyzing a new FRC game.

2015 Cary Christmas Parade

2015 Cary Christmas Parade

A couple weeks before Christmas, we participated in the Cary Christmas Parade for the second time, allowing us to introduce our team and display our robots to our community. We lined up in the queue and prepared our float and robots for the route. As we were testing the robots minutes before the parade started, Trillian’s back wheel snapped, disabling her ability to drive the course. But don’t panic! We quickly adjusted and stationed Trillian at the back of the float alongside Benjy.

During the parade, students participated in every area; some stayed on the float controlling the robots and feed Trillian and Benjy frisbees and basketballs. Others walked the course, catching the flying objects from the robots and handing out candy. Having Trillian shoot frisbees and Benjy launch basketballs continuously through the parade route never ceased to amaze the thousands of kids and parents. One person even asked if they could get a robot instead of a handful of candy!

The Cary Christmas Parade this year was another enjoyable experience for our team and we had a lot of fun supporting and spreading FIRST and sharing our enthusiasm for STEM!

2014 Cary Christmas Parade

Soon after coming back from THOR 2014 as finalists, we only had about a month to modify our robots Benjy, Trillian, and Zaphod for the Cary Christmas Parade. Benjy wasn’t behaving, Zaphod’s code had to be fully rewritten, and Trillian had to be completely reassembled, since she was used at THOR by Cortech, a new FRC team that we recently helped start. Not only did we have to rework our robots, but we also had to build a parade float that promoted both our team and the FIRST program from scratch.

At the parade, we had a few team members driving the robots from the back of a pickup truck and on the float. However, every team member was able to participate in the parade. Some interacted with the robots on the ground while others interacted with the audience by handing out candy and flyers with information about the FIRST program. Although the speed of the parade caught all of us off guard, we were able to quickly adjust and continue entertaining the crowd. The families who attended the parade were fascinated with all of our robots and many wanted to join in on the fun.

Overall, the parade was an incredible experience for the team, and we thoroughly enjoyed being able to spread the knowledge of the FIRST program to the parade onlookers.

Up next: the 2015 season Kickoff!