The RoboBees, in conjunction with GaCo and the Robolions, embarked on an eventful 72 hour retreat with the goal of enhancing collaboration between Maryland teams. This retreat, which took place in the Appalachian mountains, consisted of team-building exercises, outreach development, and relationship building.
On the first day, upon arrival at the Garrett County Environmental Center, we met the students and mentors from GaCo and the Robolions. Shortly after arriving we embarked on our first hike of the event; ate a brief lunch; and participated in an orienteering course that led into a scavenger hunt. After the scavenger hunt, we had the opportunity to learn about GaCo’s and the Robolions’ vision and mission statements, as well as what their teams are working towards. Our own team then had the chance to present our own guiding principles. Finally, all three teams had the opportunity to discuss what setbacks there are for our goals and how we can overcome them.
Later that evening, the teams shared their different outreach activities and how to effectively implement them. The Robolions discussed their work with the Girl Scouts as well as their fall outreach event, where the public can enjoy seeing a robot smash pumpkins. GaCo team members taught us how to build a top spinner out of legos which will help kids learn their multiplication facts. Everyone also learned about “The Golden Ratio” using Fibonacci numbers and a cool trick where you can guess a number someone is thinking using the binary numbers system. Our team was then able to demonstrate how we make our paper rockets and Gak. We then presented GaCo with a newly built rocket box as a gift.
Students from all three teams were able to discuss ways for future collaboration with each other. After much discussion it was decided that the place to begin was to create a collaborative website that would serve as a database for different STEM based activities. This website will be filled with lesson plans and instructions of how to implement various outreach activities. Teachers, parents, and students would be able to find activities to do that are not only informational and STEM based but also fun!
On the second day of the retreat teams shared fundraising methods and were given a tour of GaCo’s FRC workspace. Students had the opportunity to bond during a hike to Swallow Falls. While the scenery was amazing our fun did not end there. Dinner at Smiley’s, a popular restaurant in the area, and a round of mini golf at Funland completed the evening.
The final day of the retreat provided teams the opportunity to plan for the future including our next trip up to Garrett County. After saying our goodbyes to our new friends we left for our long journey back home. A lot was learned on this retreat. Not only did we learn about nature and how pretty Garrett County can be, but about how three teams from completely different backgrounds can be so similar in our goals. We plan on using our new knowledge to continue fostering relationships with these teams and expanding to additional teams in the future. We were very pleased with our experience and are excited to return next year!
By Colby F., Brooklyn K., Sara F.