We’re all doing the Happy Dance now, like Marissa and her little sister at left. We’re so very grateful to all our great supporters for helping us reach our KickStarter target goal of $1000 so quickly! For the first time in five years, we have a comfortable budget to work with at the start of the season. While our success has never hinged on our budget (we’re experts at making due with what we have!), being able to purchase the right parts and materials instead of making something “close” fit, will make a big difference in providing solid educational engineering and design instruction.
While there are different robotics education platforms with lower or comparable participation costs, we’ve always felt the return on our FIRST investments are solid and enduring, with its more than two decades of character based, high energy, mentor driven success and $16 million in scholarships for FIRST students behind the experience.
Additionally, FTC build components are robust and adaptable to a variety of construction needs. The FIRST Tech Challenge program utilizes a combination of Mindstorms and TETRIX educational building materials, which are offered to FIRST teams at a 30% discount. While that helps, costs can still be significant. Here’s a partial list of some of the TETRIX pieces we use and their discounted costs:
- Motor Encoder pack: $56
- High TechnicDC Motor Controller: $56
- 4″ Omniwheel: $25 each
- 4″ Standard wheels: $18 each
- Gear pack: $70
- Individual gears (40 tooth to 120 tooth) : $18 to $21
- 12v NiMh 3000 mah Rechargeable Battery : $35
- NXT Rechargeable Battery: $44
- NXT DC Rechargeable Battery Pack : $55
We can reuse a lot of items year to year, but some things like encoders or gears and even rechargeable batteries, wear out or get damaged, and some things like registration fees and software license renewals have to be paid every year. And this year, with the option of the Matrix build system, more new learning and building experiences will be available to us.
Other costs include:
- Annual registration fee: $275
- League fees: $250
- Software license renewals: $100
- Aluminum and plastics: $100+
Your support gives us a healthy start to our season and the ability, for the first time in five years, for our students to be able to create a full season budget and add a new business aspect to their learning experience.
We’ve got more than three weeks left in our Kickstarter campaign, and hope you’ll continue spreading the word about our team to help us grow our 2013-14 budget even more and keep the Duct Tape rolling!
We’ve started fundraising early for the new season, and have just launched a TDT Kickstarter campaign . We’re proud to be starting our 6th season as a FIRST Tech Challenge team this year. As a community team, though, we do not receive school or large organizational funds but pay our own way by raising money through a modest team member fee, sponsors, and fund raising. Annual expenses include registration, competition entry fees, robot parts (motors, servos, computers, gears, raw material, etc.), software, travel, and other team-related costs. Coaches and mentors are all volunteers. Additionally, this season, we plan to build our own 3-D printer , both as an educational project for our students, as well as to be able to produce custom parts for our robot. All funds are ultimately used to help ‘build’ future scientists, technologists, engineers, mathematicians and business leaders.
Support from our friends, community, or anyone wanting to encourage young people to follow careers in science and technology is deeply appreciated, and goes farther than contributors may realize. While building a robot and competing with it in the annual game challenge is fun, it’s also immensely instructive. Our students learn:
- Problem-solving, design and prototyping
- Teamwork, communication, and collaboration
- Shop skills, such as drilling with hand drill and drill press, using band, table, and chop saws, and shaping plastic, metal and wood
- Mechanical engineering skills, such as fabricating parts, assembling components, and working with motors, gears, servos, & pneumatics
- Electrical engineering skills, such as wiring, working with circuit boards, and troubleshooting electrical issues
- CAD & CAM skills
- Software programming skills
- Public relation skills, such as public speaking, marketing, branding, and team promotion
Contributions to our KickStarter fund are being made through our nonprofit sponsor, Learning is for Everyone, and are tax deductible as permitted by law. Contributions of any size are valued and appreciated! Your support will not only help our present team, but also our future students, as parts, tools, and knowledge are handed-down to the next generation of team members. And you’ll get some cool bling in gratitude for your support – pins, handmade duct tape gear, t-shirts, hoodies, plaques and the TDT VIP treatment!
We hope you’ll visit our page and consider contributing to Team Duct Tape today, in encouragement and support of the success of our leaders of tomorrow. Thank you!
Many thanks to the the Florida Suncoast Chapter of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers for their generous support of Team Duct Tape. Suncoast SME is a long time benefactor of both TDT and Middleton Robotics at Middleton High School, not just financially, but by including us in their meetings and tours, and encouraging us to share back our team experience throughout the year.
SME was among the first organizations to open its doors to TDT when we began five years ago, and students got some of the first outreach experiences at SME meetings, sharing their season build, CAD and programming work, and welcoming students to the amazing tours they arrange with area industrial and technical facilities.
This evening, we toured the Collaborative Center for Emerging Technologies at St. Petersburg College-Clearwater with them. CCET is an open manufacturing factory work environment designed to train future engineering technology and manufacturing employees. The Center includes a Solid Works Design Center and Additive Manufacturing-Rapid Prototyping, and provides technical certifications for workforce readiness. In short, it’s an awesome facility!
Thank you, SME, for all you do to help Tampa Bay’s emerging young professionals!
Since FIRST Tech Challenge broadened the list of possible materials last season, making 3D printed parts allowable, we thought it would be fun to build our own 3D printer as a summer project. When we toured the Backyard Workshop last year, and again at Tampa Bay Mini Maker Faire in March, we really enjoyed seeing [...] [...]
Recently, Team Duct Tape members joined in an Open House at 8th Light, Inc. ,a Chicago and Tampa based Agile software development company that we met at coolTech. 8th Light specializes in a variety of programming languages for developing “beautiful applications” for web, mobile, and embedded projects, and more to our purposes, 8th Light deeply believes [...] [...]
One of our more entertaining projects this spring has been the 2013 Red Bull Creation challenge, in which some of our team members and mentors took part. A collaborative project of our sponsor, Learning is for Everyone, the Red Bull Creation build provides yet another avenue of creative learning for people of all ages. This year’s [...] [...]
[ April 14, 2013; ] [caption id="attachment_3799" align="alignleft" width="300"] A little driving guidance at Tampa Bay Mini Maker Faire 2013[/caption] It’s been a busy spring so far! Fresh off the State Championship in early March, we’ve been able to keep Sheldon the Robot running all month, first at the Orlando Regional, then at the coolTECH business expo, and at the Tampa [...] [...]
[ March 23, 2013; ] We’re excited about this weekend’s outreach event, the 2nd annual Tampa Bay Mini Maker Faire, organized by our parent sponsor, Learning is for Everyone (LI4E) and being held at the Florida Concourse, on March 23, from 10am-6pm. There’s an awesome slate of “Makers” participating, including a tiny satellite maker, artists, musicians, jewelry makers, inventors, ham [...] [...]