Our team is based in Oakville, Ontario, Canada, at E-Bots Robotics. Through E-Bots, each of us have learned from many of their various programming lessons and other programs, which made us all to be the best we can for this team.
This organization, as well as having us as their VEX team, has FIRST LEGO League, and some years, have VEX IQ teams as well. For FLL, there are 4 levels of programming classes you can take, as well as a FLL Prep class and a few building courses. For VEX IQ, there is a ROBOTC course centered around VEX IQ and EV3 robots. For even younger audiences, there are WeeBots classes, teaching children about simple machines and basic science and physics concepts they’ll need to know growing up in STEAM.
All of these classes are taught by either the organizations few coaches for FLL and VEX, or even some of the people on our team. Many of us teach either WeeBots or Level 1 Mindstorms programming, and we’ve all done at least one week of volunteer work for a class.
E-Bots Robotics, run by Pamela and John Catricala, first started out as FastCats RC racing, back when they focused on RC racing, parties, and less on coding, and competitive robotics teams. One year, John decided to use his knowledge to have an FLL team with the original members of our VEX team. Thus the tradition started of needing to build teamwork skills on FLL before being allowed on the VEX team. After many successful FLL years, that team started to grow too old for FLL, which was when they discovered FRC and VEX. FRC and VEX were, at the time, similar, but, for the company, VEX would be easier to get into, cheaper, and the students weren’t nearly as interested in it. With VEX and FLL competition teams becoming the FastCats main passion and interest, they needed a big, risky change. Then came the idea of classes and continuing their FLL teams. Of course, with all these changes, they needed a branding change as well. All of this lead E-Bots to be what it is today.
With many records in robotics to their name, E-Bots is known as one of the best robotics lesson companies in Ontario, with some of the most successful teams. Through E-Bots, kids have some life changing experiences learning with John and the other teachers (now including Stephanie Catricala, their daughter).
You can visit the E-Bots website and learn more at E-Bots.ca!
FLL is a competition held by FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), a non-profit organization with the goal to educate kids across the world about STEAM. One of their education-based programs is FIRST LEGO League (more commonly known as FLL). This competition is for kids from grades 5-10 so that they can learn about real world issues, and provide scientific or business based solutions to them. Another aspect of the game is to code a LEGO robot for a 150 second autonomous, run on a game field. The third and final element to FLL is the Core Values, which is to demonstrate how well the team works together and with other teams. The project, robot, and Core Values components in this competition are what make FLL unique. With many teams across the world, this is an amazing opportunity for students.
The company we are based out of, in addition to having our VEX team, also has 2-4 FLL teams each year. Below, you can find a list of some of their most successful teams, and their best accomplishments:
2018, The “Hydro Dynamics” season:
- 3436, The Hydro HAULks, Detroit World Festival Champions Finalist
2017, The “Animal Allies” season:
- 3436, The Hydrators, St. Louis World Festival Innovation 1st Place, Global Innovation Award Winner
2016, The “Trash Trek” season:
- 3436, 24/7, Arkansas Razorback Invitational 3rd Place Champions, Global Innovation Award Semi-Finalist
2011, The “Body Forward” season:
- 3663, The Sentinels, World Festival Winner
Every year, we strive to help assist the teams with some of the challenges they may have. These can include identifying an inconsistency in their robot run, a way to improve the structure of their robot, a flaw in their project idea, or a general observation in something the do. We aim to help these teams achieve their very best, while letting them do all the work and discovery themselves. From this, we have an excellent collaboration with these teams, and it is so much fun being able to help them.
After being on the FLL robotics teams through E-Bots, many of the kids on these teams that we had already previously worked with a bit end up joining our VEX team. Every single person on our team has gone through FLL before joining VEX, so helping their teams is like remembering a past, fun, life.