The all-girls community robotics team “Heat It Up and Keep It Cool” is set to make its way to the Asia Pacific FIRST (For Inspiration & Recognition of Science and Technology) Tech Challenge (FTC) Invitational Championship Tournament in Sydney, Australia in July.
The Santa Clarita Valley-based community team, led by head coach Teresa Smalley, is not affiliated with any one school and also serves as a nonprofit that focuses on the development of high school-aged girls.
The members of the team include Olivia Smalley of Academy Of Canyons, Haena Lee from West Ranch High School, and Taylor Anne Brown of Santa Clarita Valley International (SCVi) Charter School.
The Los Angeles Region FTC was given one seat to represent the region in Sydney, with “Heat It Up and Keep It Cool” chosen to compete. At the international tournament, the group from Santa Clarita will be one of 50 teams from around the world competing in events that allow them to apply real-world mathematics and science concepts and develop problem-solving, organizational and team-building skills, all while designing and building their own robots.
College of the Canyons is a platinum sponsor of the “Heat It Up and Keep It Cool” team, having awarded the non-profit group and robotics team $5,000 to assist with entry fees, materials and equipment needed in order to participate in several competitions.
The donation comes as part of the overarching mission of the college’s 2013 ‘Doing What Matters for Jobs and the Economy’ sector navigator grant designed to help reorganize the state’s Workforce and Economic Development program.
As a result of the grant, the college was able to fund three ‘deputy sector navigator’ positions in the areas of communication technology/digital media, allied health and advanced manufacturing. In addition to working with industry partners to provide continued skills development training programs for these key industry sectors, the navigator positions also help to connect those same partners with educators at local high schools and junior highs, in order to better align potential career pathways with current curriculum and instruction methods.
“We wish them the best of luck in this prestigious world-class competition,” said Michael Bastine, director for the Center for Applied Competitive Technologies (CACT) at College of the Canyons.
The “Heat It Up and Keep It Cool” team started in 2010 as a FIRST Lego League (FLL) team when the girls were just nine years old. The FLL team allowed them to design, build and program an autonomous robot from the FLL Mindstorms Kit of Parts.
In the 2012-13 season, the team was given the No. 1 ranking spot for robot performance in the United States and the No. 3 ranking in the world after competing in the World Festival Tournament in St. Louis, Missouri.
Currently the No. 2 ranked team in the Los Angeles region, “Heat It Up and Keep It Cool” practices upwards of 30 hours a week when preparing for a competition, with a non-competition practice schedule of nine hours per week. As such, the team gets along well and emphasizes the FIRST Robotics core values of teamwork, cooperation, gracious behavior and professionalism.
“The team is very eager to visit Sydney and have been preparing for the tournament by learning about Australia and its history and preparing their robot for one more tournament,” said Smalley. “The girls are very excited about meeting all the teams from around the world and getting to travel throughout Australia.”