Lamar DiscoBots have taken to heart both the FIRST mission of “inspiring young people to be science and technology leaders” and the FIRST mantra of “Gracious Professionalism.” Since our inception in December of 2007 we have been devoted to the task of exposing young people to science, technology, engineering, and robotics. Even now, many of our new members knew nothing about engineering or the process of design before joining the team. The Lamar Discobots team serves to develop students from many backgrounds by giving them a wide range of opportunities.
As an inner-city public school, Lamar High School has a very diverse student population. The team echoes this, including Asian, African-American, Caucasian, and Hispanic students. The DiscoBots team also spans all four grade levels, with nearly a quarter consisting of underclassmen. This diversity of ages illustrates the team’s school-wide outreach, and will also serve to sustain the team as members graduate each year. In addition to racial and grade-level diversity, the team also exhibits a strong female presence. our team attempts to also seeks to inspire young women to become interested in science and technology. Females make up about a third of our team, and we seek to involve as many as possible in the club.
DiscoBots alumni clearly exhibit the effects of their FIRST participation. Experience with FIRST has inspired many members, including those who were not initially interested in science or math, to pursue STEM fields. In the spring of 2011, five seniors were undecided on attending college; after participating in robotics, all five are pursuing a degree in science or technology at the University of Houston. 52 out of our 64 (approximately 84%) of our alumni from the last five years are pursuing a degree in science, technology, engineering, or math. A number of these students also received FIRST scholarships. Even after the success of our founding members, we have continued to inspire our alumni and help them to reach success at prestigious colleges such as Carnegie Mellon, Harvard, Yale, Rice, and John Hopkins.
We have broken away from just our school and seek to inspire students from around Houston. The DiscoBots consider ourselves an open team and welcome anyone who wishes like to join. In addition to Lamar students, we have home schoolers, as well as students from Carnegie Vanguard and Clements High School . Through the addition of students that would otherwise be unable to participate our team is able to benefit from the diversity while at the same time teaching these students about Gracious Professionalism.
We seek to expose people outside of Lamar to FIRST and robotics. During both the FIRST season and off-season, we have been committed to enhancing the awareness of science, engineering, and technology by promoting robotics in our community. We believe FIRST robotics can be an immeasurable opportunity for students to learn about science and technology and experience a real-world engineering project.
The DiscoBots started out as a club, and a small one at that. However, despite our meager beginnings, we have come to have a large impact upon the school at large. In 2011, the team helped create a robotics and engineering class. The team was given a leading role in developing curriculum and putting our key students to help guide the class to success. In 2012-2013, the class has expanded its reach way beyond our club, to include 5 different class sections per school year. In all 200 students are taking the robotics class at Lamar High School every year. Having class period during the school day meant that kids who would otherwise be unexposed to design and engineering in high school are now able to become involved.
The class has a large focus on VEX robotics- throughout the majority of the year they plan, design, and build. The students who take it would have no other exposure to the process of design in high school and this class gives them the ability to learn about and become interested in robotics and engineering. During the spring semester, the class becomes involved with FIRST robotics alongside side the students in the club. During class time, they discuss different ways to go about solving the challenges presented by the game, and researching the ways other teams have gone about it. This class is an opportunity to instill a sense of Gracious Professionalism and a love of science, technology, engineering and math to students, and it is our goal to expand the program in coming years.
The DiscoBots have sought to become part of the Houston community and help create an environment wherein young people could develop a sense of curiosity and a willingness to learn. One of the main events that we have attended annually for 5 years is the Sally Ride Festival. This festival is a day when young girls, elementary and middle school aged, come to Rice University to learn about science and the different things it can be used for. In addition, the festival hopes to inspire the young ladies to pursue their love of math and science. In demonstrating there, we hoped to help achieve that goal.
In addition, this year the DiscoBots were part of organizing the first annual Houston Makers Faire. This is a day in which inventors and engineers come together and show each other what they have made, sharing ideas and dreams. We felt honored to be included and sought to contribute as much as possible, demonstrating both our VEX and previous FIRST robots as to spread awareness of both robotics programs. In the past, the DiscoBots have presented at the Austin Maker Faire twice and reached thousands of people. We felt strongly that Houston needed its 1st Maker Faire as well !
Last year the DiscoBots were featured twice on KHOU, a local television station. We did a team interview with the morning news show and demonstrated the robot on camera. We have also been featured in local community papers, such as the Houston Chronicle, River Oaks Examiner, Guidry News, and in Robot Magazine. We have used this media exposure to try to spread both awareness of FIRST and Gracious Professionalism.
As well as attempting to inspire the community at large, the DiscoBots have sought to spread awareness of FIRST and Gracious Professionalism to our local school community. In addition to the robotics class, we have done demonstrations during the school day, which allowed students with no background in robotics to get a hands on experience with FIRST. The DiscoBots have also shown segments on the Lamar Cable Television, a show aired to students during the school day.
To the members of our team, FIRST isn’t just a game we play, it’s a way of life. It has taught us how to work together, and how to play together. We seek to embody gracious professionalism in all aspects of our team and in our life. We have attempted to the best team that we can- one that inspires others and accepts both wins and losses with equal grace.
Our website presecence is also extensive, we archive every website we make at http://discobots.org . We have an archive of our rookie website in 2008 with complete detail on team members, photos and guides for rookie teams. We feel this help provides a roadmap on how to build a great team ! We also help maintain txfirst.org and mentorsearch.us to help spread online information about robotics. Txfirst.org is a website to post information about the Houston FIRST Regional and other robotics activities. MentorSearch is a non-profit our team started to help fund robotics competitions and recruit mentors from across the country.
Impact on Team Members
- 95% of alumni pursuing post-secondary education
- 84% of alumni pursuing STEM majors
- Alumni continue to volunteer at FIRST and VEX robotic events
- 7 alumnus from the currently mentoring FRC teams
- 2 alumni co-lead mentors of FIRST teams (2587 and 4029)
- 3 alumni mentors of VEX teams (5678, 1265, 4029)
- 1 former mentor now lead mentor of FRC team (3847 - Spectrum)
Role Model Characteristics
- We feel we are a strong role model in a tough inner city district.
- 2587 have hosted a large number of events for a 6th year team:
- · 6th year co-organizing Ship Week Robot Scrimmage
- · 5th year running Houston VEX Events, expanded to 70 vex teams in houston area from 0 teams in 2008.
- host summer robotics workshops
- publishing online tutorials through mentorsearch.us and our website
Impact on Community
- We continue to serve the community by presenting at large public gatherings.
- We also try to raise awareness by spreading the txfirst.org and mentorsearch.us website
Innovative Methods to Spread FIRST
- 850+ girls at Houston Sally Ride Festival (Our 5th year presenting at Sally ride)
2,500+ attendees at the Houston Mini-Maker Faire (our 3rd time at Maker Faire)
- 10,000s+ with 3 television interviews with channel 13 ABC News
- we have been featured in a dozen online news articles
Strength of Partnerships
- We have mentors from ExxonMobil, Shell, Weatherford, Rice Unviersity and Sparx Engineering
- We have material sponsors from Texas Metal Speciality , Bodecker Plastics and ExxonMobil URC
- We are able to get machine work at Rice University and ExxonMobil along with custom sheet metal work done at Texas Metal Specialty.
- Our website, discobots.org which has received 50,000+ hits
- Live TV interviews on Channel 13
- 3 google groups , a list for students, mentors and public
- Chief Delphi/YouTube, our videos received over 2,000+ hits each
- We are a strong role model in a tough inner city district.
- 13 FRC Teams in Houston ISD over the past few years
- On average 0.1 awards per team
- ~80% of HISD teams funded by one source
- We have won more awards and recognition then all 13 FRC HISD teams combined along with securing funding from many different sources.