Chap Robotics is a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education program servicing the Eanes Independent School District in Austin, Texas. The program focuses on engaging students in STEM through competitive robotics. It’s largest, original team competes in the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition (FRC) out of Westlake High School. Called FIRST Team 2468, Team Appreciate, this team is responsible for much of the mentorship and out reach mentioned in the website.
Founded in 2007 by Athletics Coach and Science Teacher Norman Morgan (commonly referred to as “Coach”, he is the CEO of the program) and Science Teacher Tim Jordan (known as “TJ” and Tim “The Rhino” Jordan), Chap Robotics started as just the upperclassmen robotics team.
The team, since it’s 2008 rookie season, has grown into the varsity team of the program, now made of 7 robotics teams in 3 schools. In 2012-2013, Team Appreciate’s 50 Senior and Junior team members mentored 34 Sophomore and Freshman on 4 different FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) teams. In the fall, Team Appreciate also mentored 49 middle schoolers on 2 Boosting Engineering and Technology (BEST) teams.
In all, the teams currently include:
FRC (FIRST Robotics Competition; 35 members):
- FIRST Team 2468, Team Appreciate (Varsity Team of Westlake High School)
FTC (FIRST Tech Challenge; 34 members):
- FIRST Team 3781, Westlake Pi-Rho Maniacs (Original Junior Varsity Team of Westlake High School)
- FIRST Team 5628, The Tau Manifesto (Veteran Junior Varsity Team of Westlake High School)
- FIRST Team 6504, Torque Omega (New Junior Varsity Team of Westlake High School)
- FIRST Team 6710, Summation (New Junior Varsity Team of Westlake High School)
BEST (Boosting Engineering and Technology; 49 members):
- The Galactic Cougars (Robotics Team of Hill Country Middle School)
- The Mario Galaxy Cats (Robotics Team of West Ridge Middle School)
This coming year, Team Appreciate looks to expand Chap Robotics and robotics competition teams abroad. At several of our elementary schools, we hope to install Engineering And Robotics Learned Young (EARLY) teams, so that young students can begin the love of competitive robotics early on. Also this year, Chap Robotics is assisting the inception of teams in 4 different continents.
Not just a competitive robotics program, Team Appreciate focuses on expanding STEM curriculum. From one Robotics class in 2007, Westlake High School now has Robotics 1, 2, and 3 courses, teaching freshmen basics with LEGO Mindstorms and giving experienced members time to work on the robot in season and improve skills throughout the year. In addition, Westlake now also boasts both an Digital Electronics & Electricity course, in its third year, and a 3D Design and Presentation starting this year that teaches CAD to students and helps them become Certified SolidWorks Associates. Also new this year, Robotics: FTC will focus on competitive robotics competition. We also arranged to start VEX robotics classes at the middle schools this coming year.
In addition to District education, Chap Robotics reaches out to our own community and beyond. From hosting FIRST LEGO League (FLL) Invitationals and robotics camps at Westlake to providing demonstrations at our feeder schools and large conferences (such as NIWeek, SxSW, Dell Demo Day, Maker Fair, and TCEA to name a few), Chap Robotics has placed an importance in promoting robotics in Austin. On a larger scale, Team Appreciate has been a poster team for both LEGO and NI, demoing several products nationally, such as the EV3 Intelligent Brick. Of our current international mentorships, the oldest was starting robotics at the Randfontein School in South Africa, where we donated 4 LEGO Mindstorm kits and sent student mentors. We were the only program ever to be asked by the Global Literacy Program to return. This summer our original FTC team, FIRST Team 3781, Westlake Pi-Rho Maniacs, aided by some Team Appreciate students, took a drip to Australia to compete in an invitational and put on a workshop on helping students make transitions on the FIRST continuum.
From 2007-2012, Team Appreciate participated in the BEST Robotics competition, where we advanced to world championships in 2011 (the last year this was held), won regional championships five times, and won multiple awards at our local (hub) competition, including 1st place in the robot competition and the BEST Award (equivalent Chairman’s Award).