Every great cheese needs to be cultured in the right atmosphere!
FIRST Team Blue Cheese has two homes: Deep Run High School in Glen Allen, VA, part of Henrico County Public Schools, and our build site at the home of our title sponsor, Powertrain Control Solutions in Ashland, VA. Deep Run, once only known for its largely successful sports programs, is now known as the home of the 2016 FIRST Stronghold World Champions, following their "6-Banner" FIRST Robotics Competition season.
We spend nearly as much time and energy doing STEM outreach as we do working on our own robots. Our outreach programs reach worldwide, but they begin at home, building awareness of and enthusiasm for project-based STEM learning at our own school.
How in the world did the team get so many members?
The team encourages participation among all students, regardless of grade level and prior robotics experience. In order to encourage application and membership, the team puts on an ice cream social every year where we show highlights from competitions, build season, and outreach. Here we stress how important every member is regardless of their passion. If you have something you can do, we'll put you to work! Whether you're an engineer or an artist, Blue Cheese has more than enough room for you.
What kind of partnerships does the team have within the school?
Deep Run High School is also the home of Henrico County's Center for Information Technology, a specialty center that prepares students for careers in computing, information technology, and project management.
Blue Cheese works very closely with the teachers and executives in charge of the specialty center in order to encourage participation in robotics and other STEM-based activities. Every year, Blue Cheese demonstrates the previous year's robot at the CIT Open House for prospective students, ensuring that new students get a taste of Blue Cheese before they're even enrolled.
As a result, a large percentage of our team is made up of CIT students and such students comprise the majority of our media, programming, and website sub teams.
So what exactly does Blue Cheese do at Deep Run High School?
Blue Cheese has worked hard with the school to increase robotics awareness and the recognition of important STEM activities and classes. In 2013, FIRST Team 1086 has founded their own booster club, a critical step towards fund raising and recognition within the school.
The team regularly performs and demonstrates their robots at the school's pep-rallies. By incorporating the robot into a game with human players, the team engages and thrills the audience with wacky robot mayhem. We're also sure to get the loudest cheers!
We also make sure to book a spot at the school's summer Freshman Orientation for a demonstration in order to show new students the opportunities they have at Deep Run besides the school's sports and clubs. Blue Cheese always draws a crowd at recruiting events for its Center for Information Technology. For the Homecoming Parade, we build a float and the whole team walks with other clubs and groups, handing out candy to spectators along the route. After the parade, we have a huge tailgating party with our students, parents and mentors with lots of food and fun!
What are the school requirements for joining the team?
Besides a thirst and passion for a sense of team camaraderie and fulfillment, Blue Cheese has additional requirements for team participation. Students must maintain at least a C in all of their classes because building a robot requires our members to be "sharp." A strong group of minds leads to a strong robot. To help our members meet participation requirements, the team has the No Cheesehead Left Behind program that encourages members to tutor and teach other members in areas of difficulty. Our Booster organization works hard to ensure that lack of financial resources is not a barrier to participation.
Deep Run High School keeps our cheese churning!