In this feature story, I wanted to introduce you to the FIRST® Robotics Competition Team 1086 Blue Cheese from Deep Run High School, Glen Allen, Virginia. FIRST Team 1086 was born when Deep Run High School first opened its doors in 2002.
The mission of FIRST® is to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders and innovators, by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering, and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership.
The growth and success of the team have helped teach hundreds of students technical, teamwork and leadership skills. First Team 1086 has been regularly involved with RVA MakerFest.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Bridget Westhoven, mentor and member of the Deep Run High School Robotics Booster Club, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that operates in support of FRC 1086 Blue Cheese, its students, and programs.
(RVA MakerFest) Bridget, tell me about the Deep Run HS Blue Cheese Robotics team? How many students are involved and what are some of their accomplishments?
The students must be busy! What type of outreach events do they participate in? I know STEM, especially robotics, is a widely sought after subject matter.
Alright, I have to ask. What’s with the cheese theme?
(BW) The team takes its name from the holes you see in our robots’ frames. Many people think those holes look like the holes in Swiss cheese. They are actually a very clever “whey” to lighten the weight of the robot without compromising its strength. We call it “cheesing.” Deep Run’s school colors are blue and black. Blue Cheese sounds much more appetizing than black cheese so…
We purchase our cheeseheads from a company called Foamation in Wisconsin. We are also famous for our use of cheese puns in our social media.
In your team’s video (linked below), there’s awesome talk about outreach to underserved communities. Do you have a story or two you can share about an impact the team made?
(BW) This past year the team met representatives from two other RVA nonprofits at a grant award ceremony at DuPont (thanks, DuPont!). One was Sacred Heart Community Center that runs programs for the Latino community in the Manchester area of Richmond. This summer a group of our students designed and taught a week of half-day hands-on activities at one of their camps, focusing on coding and robot control. We had such strong participation that every camper had a high school student to work with one-on-one.
The other nonprofit is a group called Sportable which provides assistance and adaptive equipment to athletes with physical and visual disabilities. Our students have begun an ongoing partnership to meet with athletes to look for ways to improve the equipment they use for sports like rowing, kayaking, and biking. Our kids learn about biomechanical engineering and Computer Aided Design by working on real-life projects. Sportable athletes will have a better experience through improved equipment provided to Sportable at no cost. The most recent project involves 3D printing a piece for an oar lock. Win-win!
Since we’re focused on the 2018 RVA MakerFest, what are you hoping to give and receive from participating in the MakerFest?
Thank you, Bridget!
The RVA MakerFest team looks forward to seeing Team Blue Cheese and all of our other makers at RVA MakerFest 2018 on October 6th!