Robotics Programs on Kauai
Most of our elementary schools have FIRST Lego League teams. These kids build a self-driving robot, based on Lego pieces, in the context of solving a real-world problem such as cleaning up pollution or inventing devices to help older people. Their competition includes researching the problem and giving a presentation on their solution as well as the robot events.
Although not a prerequisite, participation in FLL can help students build skills and experience to excel at the next level of robotics programs on Kauai, FIRST Tech Challenge.
Kauai's middle- and high-school students may join one of the FIRST Tech Challenge teams formed through a school or after-school program, or may create their own 'community' team. In 2019 (the third year that Kauai teams have participated in FTC), teams were organized at the following schools: Kapaa High, Kauai High, Waimea High, Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School, St. Catherine's School, Island School, along with a community team of middle-school students from the west side. We hope to add more teams in coming years. FTC Teams receive their 'game challenge' in September, and work on building, programming, and driving their robot, as well as preparing an engineering notebook and presentation for the award judges, through mid-December. The cost of this program is very reasonable, and KRA assists teams with applying for grants and organizing fundraising activities to help with the cost of robot parts, competition fees, tools, and travel. KRA provides training and support for teachers and mentors, and we organize two local competitions on Kauai each fall, where the Kauai teams work with and compete against teams from around the state. The season culminates with the State Championship in December, on Oahu, where our teams have done very well in competition and won several awards.
Participation in FTC is highly recommended (though not strictly required) for students who wish to progress to the next level of competition, the all-island FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) team that competes against teams from around the world on Oahu and the mainland.
The Kaua`ibots, FIRST Robotics Competition team 2465, is an all-island team that builds large, powerful robots that are both human-driven and self-controlled. Each January a new game is announced and teams have 6-10 weeks to design and build that year's robot, which is done at the Robotics Workshop at Kukui Grove Center. The team competes in the FRC Hawaii Regional Tournament at the Stan Sheriff Center at UH Manoa in March, and most years, at an additional regional competition on the mainland. In past years, the team has competed in the Central Valley and San Diego regionals in California, and the Utah regional in Salt Lake City. In 2020, the team will be attending the Los Angeles North regional in late February (and touring NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory as an added bonus!). Students can learn a great deal of mechanical, electrical, computer and systems engineering, computer-aided drafting, game scouting and strategy, problem-solving techniques, and business skills working alongside adult mentors - and only students are allowed to actually drive the robots.
While this "varsity" team is mainly for high schoolers, middle school students who have gained experience in the FTC program may join the Kaua`ibots FRC team, by invitation only.
Each summer this program offers several 1-week science/engineering workshops for middle school students; often these include a robotics class. Click the link above to see a description of the 2014 Kids College offerings.