From the Director

It is hard to believe that we are already near the end of December. It seems like I just welcomed so many of you to our family, and now it is the competition season. Time seems to be flying – and I have been following suit. In this calendar year, I have had the privilege of flying to Botswana twice as we started the FLL program there, Dubai for the FIRST Global Competition, and finally a long awaited family reunion trip to Australia (I got back just a week prior to this writing). Jet lag aside, this has been a most incredible year for me both personally and professionally. It has been both freeing and very difficult for me to step aside from coaching to focus on more of the work of the Executive Director.

2019 has been a time of change and growth for all of us. We saw our largest group of Seniors yet leave the nest to fly off to colleges across theUSA. It was a difficult parting, but we also welcomed many new families to our flock. It has been such a joy to watch as the newer members of our group have jumped in to help us out with coaching, volunteering, mentoring and other support – like a brand new newsletter! (Thank you, Laura.)

The Board has grown in size, and is working hard on improving our policies, processes, transparency, and structure. By the time
you read this newsletter, our FLL Jr teams, and many of our FLL teams as well, will have completed their seasons. With just one returning coach in each program, there has been a tremendous learning opportunity for coaches and students alike. We are so proud of the caliber of coaching this season and the effort put in by so many working parents and busy kids to participate in this program. The FTC teams are just ramping up their competition seasons as they are preparing for their first judged event this season – the Feynman Interleague in Tacoma. Although the holidays are upon us, our students are seeing only robot meeting opportunities, so please feel free to tell your FTC student “no” – your family time is top priority in this hectic world.

As you enter the break from school, work, and other scheduled routine activities, I hope you will reflect on a great year of learning, discovery and joy. I know that I have seen incredible growth in our students – confidence in their skills, opinions, and even their voice. The students who worked so hard to take FLL to Botswana should also be proud that the 12 teams that started there also completed the season and are planning for next year as well!

We look forward to further growth together and would value your feedback, volunteer time, or other help as we seek to improve further the Swerve Robotics experience for all. Thank you for your ongoing support.

I want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, or whatever holiday you choose to celebrate at this time of year. I hope all have a wonderful time with family and take the time to rest and enjoy the season.

Heidi Lovett

African Tech Roundup interview

Heidi Lovett, founder and Executive Director was recently interviewed about Swerve Robotics and our work to bring FLL to Botswana. If you would like to hear the interview, please listen on your favorite Podcast site or at the African Tech Roundup website. It was an honor to speak with Andile Masuku about the work we do here at Swerve Robotics to empower the youth of our community and world.

Super day at the State Championships!

On Sunday, March 17th Washington finally held their FIRST LEGO League (FLL) and FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) State Championships. Swerve had 5 teams at the event – 2 FLL and 3 FTC all competing at the same time! In addition, we have two closely affiliated teams that students from FTC 417 SKID have been mentoring that were also competing. The results of the day were incredible!

The FLL teams were very successful – Squeaky Wheels our most veteran FLL team won a project award and our very own Night Gnomes won the Innovation award for their project and have been invited to compete in the Global Innovation award competition! This is no small deal and we are very excited for these little Gnomes.

The FTC teams also had a good day, all three of our FTC teams were selected to participate in the Elimination rounds on separate alliances. In addition, our friends from Woodinville High School – the 11970 Titanium Talons – were also selected to play on an alliance in the elimination matches. Every one of the 4 alliances had a team from Woodinville on it! Our home town was well represented. In the end, only one alliance was able to win the game and it turned out to be our very own 8923 – Perpetual Velocity that took the game. 6220 Centripetal was on the finalist alliance and the other two teams, 11970 and 417 SKID were eliminated.

When it came time for the awards, we knew that 417 was not eligible for the Inspire Award as they had recently won it in British Columbia and had already secured a spot a the World Championships. So, we hoped that our other two teams would be nominated for awards. In the end, 6220 won the Collins Innovate Award and 417 won the Motivate Award.

Now we have two of our 4 FTC teams that have advanced to the World Championships and we are preparing for travel to Houston TX in mid-April. In addition, 417 is raising money (would you like to help them??) to pay for their travel to Botswana where they will be providing a group of up to 40 teachers a “boot camp” experience to introduce them to FIRST LEGO League as we start the program in Botswana. Please join us in congratulating our teams on a very great day!

History being made!

Swerve Robotics is so very proud of our FTC teams. In mid February, 6220 Centripetal won the Inspire Award at the British Columbia Provincial Championships earning them a spot at the World Championship in Houston, TX. The other two teams competed at the FTC West Super Regional in Spokane WA March 8-11, 2018 where both 417 SKID and 8923 Perpetual Velocity advanced to the World Championship as well. For the first time in the history of Swerve Robotics, all three teams will be competing at the highest level. Please join us in congratulating our teams on their highly successful season thus far.