2016 Battle O’ Baltimore, Sep. 24

25816704554_7a414468ca_zThe Battle O’ Baltimore is Maryland’s off-season FIRST Robotics Competition event.  The event returns to McDonogh School in Owings Mills on September 24, 2016.  See more than 30 teams from Maryland and beyond compete in STRONGHOLD.  The Battle O’ Baltimore is presented by the Baltimore Area Alliance of FIRST teams.

The Battle O’ Baltimore is a fun, relaxed way to get familiar with FIRST and all their K-12 programs.  In addition to the FRC competition, there will be demos by FIRST LEGO League and FIRST Tech Challenge teams.

The event is FREE and open to visitors of all ages.

FIRST LEGO League Jr. Creature Craze Season Underway

cc_treeoflife_finals_flljrgreenThe 2016-2017 FIRST LEGO League Jr. season got underway August 1 with unveiling of the Creature Craze challenge.  Teams of up to six students, age 6-10,  with two adult coaches can register through April 2017 and get started at your own pace.  Learn more about starting a FIRST LEGO League Jr. team.

This season FIRST LEGO League Jr. material is structured into 12 modules that can translate into 12 weekly sessions.  The students get Engineering Notebooks to capture their thoughts and learning.  There’s also a new “Inspire Set” of special LEGOs to incorporate into your team’s model and research.  All this material is included in the team’s $75 registration.

For the LEGO model, a FIRST LEGO League Jr. Starter Set based on the LEGO WeDO 2.0 Core Set + Software ($189.95) is recommended but not required this season (but it will be required next season and beyond).

We are putting together a full slate of FIRST LEGO League Jr. Expos for Maryland.  We will start posting Expo dates soon, but we plan to have some each month from December through June.  If you or your organization are interested in hosting an Expo, please contact us.

Maryland Teams at 2016 FIRST Championship

PrintWe congratulate and cheer each of the Maryland teams heading to St. Louis for the FIRST Championship April 27-30, 2016.  You can watch the action live each day, and also catch Conference sessions.

  • FTC 4318 Green Machine Reloaded, Horizons 4-H, Howard County (Franklin)
  • FTC 5916 Bo-Bots, Cecil County community team (Edison)
  • FTC 7393 electron Volts, Gearbox 4-H, Montgomery County (Franklin)
  • FTC 8221 Cubix^3, Carroll County community team (Edison)
  • FTC 9794 Wizards.exe, Rockville Robotics, Montgomery County (Franklin)
  • FRC 686 Bovine Intervention, Walkersville / Linganore / Oakdale High Schools (Hopper)
  • FRC 836 Robobees, St. Mary’s County community team (Curie)
  • FRC 1389 The Body Electric, Walt Whitman High School (Curie)
  • FRC 1629 Garrett Coalition, Garrett County High Schools (Archimedes)
  • FRC 3389 TEC Tigers, Parkside High School CTE and Wicomico County Tec Hub (Archimedes)
  • FRC 4945 Titanium Wrecks, Worcester County community team (Galileo)
  • FRC 5830 The Irrational Engineers, Prince George’s County community team (Carver)

Congratulations also to our Dean’s List finalists for FRC and FTC, and many thanks to all the Maryland volunteers helping at the events.  Good luck to all and have fun!

Robotics Grant Program Under Consideration in Maryland Legislature – Update

Legislation to authorize $250,000 in grants to support robotics programs in Maryland public schools is now under consideration in the Maryland House and Senate.  HB0115 and SB0582 are the bills.  As of March 18 they have been reported out of their House and Senate committees with near unanimous approval and appear headed forward for consideration by the full House and Senate.  Now is the time to let your local representatives know what you think. 

If you’d like to send a letter/email of support, here is some suggested language (Maryland-Robotics-Grant-Suggested-Email-Language.pdf), and here is how to email your local representative (Instructions for Emailing Your Representatives).  Let your representative know what FIRST means for you, your team and community.  For some great examples, and for inspirational reading, have a look at these testimonials submitted by FIRST mentors:

HB115 IntroductionThe House Bill was introduced on Feb. 4.  You can view the introduction of the Bill by Del. Kirill Reznik, featuring testimony from:

  • Zachary Cohen, teacher at South River High School and head mentor of FRC Team 1111 Powerhawks (1:11:40)
  • Sunil Tohan, student at Richard Montgomery High School, member of FTC Team 5421 RM’d and Dangerous, and member of MoCo FIRST group of Montgomery County FIRST teams (1:14:55)
  • Daquan Proctor, student at South River High School and Chief Operating Officer of FRC Team 1111 Powerhawks (1:18:10)
  • Michelle Fivens, parent and mentor for FRC Team 1111 Powerhawks (1:21:20)
  • Paul Mincarelli, Maryland Out of School Time (1:24:30)
  • Ed Mullin, Baltimore Robotics Center (1:26:43)

On Feb. 24 the Senate Bill was introduced by Sen. Nancy King and testimony was heard. You can view the introduction of the Senate Bill here, featuring testimony of:

  • Sen. Nancy King (4:28:02)
  • Chuck Trautwein, Resource Teacher for Instructional Technology, Garrett County Public Schools and head mentor of FRC Team 1629 Garrett Coalition (4:30:10)
  • Lauren Bahnsen, student at South Carroll High School and member of FTC Team 6284 RoboCavs (4:33:37)
  • Rose Young, science teacher at Glenelg Country School and mentor of FRC Team 2199 Robo-Lions, and multiple FTC and FLL teams through Glenelg Country School and the non-profit PIE^3 (4:35:44)
  • Connor Tinker, student at River Hill High School, mentor of FTC Team 10216 SpiderByte and alum of FTC Team 3113 Some Disassembly Required and FRC Team 4067 The Incredible Hawk (4:38:55)
  • Catherine Villnave, Science Enrichment Specialist, Baltimore City Public Schools (4:41:18)

On March 2 there was a showcase of robotics programs at the House of Delegates in Annapolis featuring FRC Team 1111 Powerhawks and FTC Team 5421 RM’d and Dangerous.  Many representatives are due to visit our FIRST competitions in March and April, and we encourage more to come!

We have more than 700 FIRST teams in Maryland reaching more than 6,000 students and 2,000 volunteers/mentors.  Now is the time to let your voices be heard to support robotics programs and STEM in Maryland schools.

USRA STEMaction Center Open for FIRST Teams

STEMaction-v03med (640x206)Our new USRA STEMaction Center is now open for business.  FIRST teams can come for practice time on our FIRST Robotics Competition, FIRST Tech Challenge or FIRST LEGO League playing fields. The STEMaction Center is located at 7178 Columbia Gateway Drive, Columbia, MD 21046 (map).

We are open on Wednesdays from 4pm – 8pm, and we are working to set additional times (see calendar).  Please complete this Reservation form to request use of the facility during our open times or on other dates.  While you can walk in during our open times, we cannot guarantee access to the practice fields unless your team has a reservation.

Any FIRST team using the facility must be accompanied by at least one adult team mentor for every 4 students attending.  The adult team mentors must have passed FIRST‘s Youth Protection Screening and must agree to a facility-use waiver on behalf of their team.

USRA STEMaction Center Preview and Town Hall, Nov. 12, 2015

STEMaction-v03med (640x206)Maryland FIRST team mentors are invited for a first look at the new USRA STEMaction Center on Thursday, November 12, 2015, from 5-7pm.  This 25,000 square foot facility will soon open with FRC, FTC and FLL practice fields, and room to grow.  The Center is located at 7178 Columbia Gateway Drive, Columbia, MD 21064. It’s a game changer for our FIRST community in Maryland.

Have a look at the space between 5-6pm, then join us for an open town hall discussion between 6-7pm.  We’ll discuss how we can best use this facility and our new partnership with the Universities Space Research Association over the course of this season and the next several years.

The event is free, but space is limited.  Please register here:

Please note, a celebratory ribbon cutting is now scheduled for Friday, Dec. 11, 2015.  Invited guests, dignitaries and the public will be welcome at that event.  Please save the date and watch for more details.

Maryland STEM Festival and FIRST

MSF logo-elementsThe Maryland STEM Festival is coming November 6-15, and Maryland FIRST teams are represented at a number of events, including:


BAA Education Day for FRC Teams, Oct. 24, 2015

The Baltimore Area Alliance hosts its annual Education Day for FIRST Robotics Competition teams.  This full day of seminars offers a great chance for students and mentors from any area FIRST Robotics Competition teams to get ready for the new season.

Where: JHU Applied Physics Lab, Kossiakoff Center, 11100 Johns Hopkins Rd, Laurel, MD 20723

When: Oct. 24, 2015 from 8:30am – 4pm

Register here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/baa-frc-education-day-2015-tickets-18403284720

Event Flyer: BAA Ed Day Flyer 2015

FLL Coaches Roundtable, Oct. 21, 2015

PrintLooking for advice on running your FLL team? Want to share your experiences as an FLL coach? Whether you’re a rookie or a seasoned coach, come to the FLL Coaches’ Roundtable. We’re organizing an event for coaches to meet other coaches and learn from one another. In the spirit of Gracious Professionalism and Coopertition, share ideas, questions, and experiences.

We’ll cover any topics related to FLL and the Trash Trek season. Please comment on what you’d like to discuss. Some ideas for topics include:

Questions or concerns about the Trash Trek rules
Managing Team Dynamics
How to help your team with programming
Getting help on guiding the team to a project
Core Values and Team Exercises

When: Oct. 21, 2015 from 7pm – 8:30pm

Where: FIRST @ United Therapeutics, 1110 Spring St, Silver Spring, MD 20910

Free event, register here.

Ft. Meade Alliance STEM Family Night, Nov. 4, 2015

stem-family-night2The Ft. Meade Alliance hosts its annual STEM Family Night on November 4, 2015 at the Arundel Mills Mall Roundhouse Food Court from 6-8pm.  This free event gives local elementary and middle school students — and their parents — a chance to experience the amazing world of science, technology, engineering and math! Check out many displays, including teams from Power Hawks Robotics from South River High School. More info here:  STEM-Family-Night-Flyer_Students20151.pdf.

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