As we enter week three of build season, the stress is probably starting to climb and teams should be well on their way to making a functional robot. By now freshmen should be introduced to the craziness that is FRC, and upperclassmen are probably hard at work or arguing over design ideas for the umpteenth time this week. Robotics teams are, in my experience, like a huge dysfunctional family. FIRST robotics is made up of a very diverse group of people, all coming together to build amazing robots. As much as some individuals like to poke fun at The Straights™ here on tumblr, they’re still going to be your teammates. All joking aside, you’re still going have to deal with, and respect hetero/cis people on your team. In order for a team to be functional, everyone has to respect each other equally. Here are some ideas to keep in mind when dealing with those who are not LGBTQ+ on your team.
- Kira K. 5683
Hey I'm from 1796 and I don't know if I should come out to my team or not I've been trying decide for a awhile, any advice?
Firstly: I recommend against coming out if you feel like it will put you in an unsafe situation. Your own safety should come first.
Secondly: It’s often a good idea to come out to one person or a small group of people first, to test the waters, before coming out to the group as a whole. Depending on your situation, you may not even need to come out to the group all at once.
Thirdly: Pick the right time to come out. In the middle of build season, when tensions are high and stress is rampant, may not be the best time to tell someone something this important.
If you want more of our advice, you can check out our #coming out tag!
Best of luck!
This is a stressful time of year for all of us. Seniors are applying and hearing back from schools, juniors are planning visits, midterms are around the corner, and it’s also build season. It’s really easy to get carried away with the stress and forget about the outside world. Even in the midst of the FRC build season, we still have to remember the FLL and FTC teams that are building and competing for their competitions. Being a safe space and resource for LGBTQ+ youth in FIRST, we want to include everyone, not just FRC members. Life is really stressful as an LGBTQ+ kid, especially with an extracurricular activity as stressful and time consuming as any FIRST organization.
To all my fellow LGBTQ+ FIRSTers out there, I love you, we love you, and your identity is valid, no matter how young you are. Whatever you feel is what is true of your experience. You may change your labels as you come upon ones that fit you better, and that’s okay. Finding your place in the LGBTQ+ community is confusing, but I promise you, it is worth it. As your classmates mature, the taunting will stop and you’ll feel safer, Even if high school is rough, the world is so much bigger than your small community. The world is big and amazing and full of so many opportunities and support for you. Don’t give up.
To the mentors and teachers, support your LGBTQ+ students, even if they are young. Puberty is a rough time for everyone, but especially for LGBTQ+ kids who are growing into an experience they weren’t prepared for. If a student comes out to you, support them. Lend them a shoulder if they need to cry, and build them up. Without support, almost 60% of LGBTQ+ people will attempt suicide, but if you give your students support, that high rate exponentially decreases.
“Results suggested that a hostile school climate has serious ramifications for LGBT students but institutional supports can play a significant role in making schools safer for these students,” [x].
To everyone in FIRST, you can make a safer environment for LGBTQ+ youth. You can start a Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) or Sexuality and Gender Alliance (SAGA) at your lower schools. You can practice using gender inclusive languages such as “hey, students” instead of “hello, boys and girls.” You can introduce yourself with you pronouns (ex: “Hi, I’m Sean and I use he/him pronouns"). Most importantly, you can be there your your students, because being there makes a huge difference.
Through the years, I’ve always found that you tend to look back and face a lot of regret. Things you should have done but didn’t, and things you did and shouldn’t have. I, for one, have a ton of helpful tips for my younger self. Middle school me was a disaster, y’all. An absolute terror. I don’t even remember my middle school years, that’s how bad I was as a small child.
There have always been thoughts in the back of my mind about my past self. What my life could be like now if I could have heard these thoughts back when I needed them.
- Wheatley S. 2421
Every year, we all get to experience the joys of build season. The excitement at creating robots becomes the backdrop of daily life from January all through February, during times in High School when midterm exams and 3rd Quarter Projects are important. However, during Build Season there is a key aspect to keep in mind. Something that doesn’t often get discussed.
Yes, I get to stand on my metaphorical pedestal and teach you all how to handle getting sick during build season.
Now, the most common thing for people on the team to catch is a cold; with everyone in such a confined space, something as simple as a cold can wipe out and exhaust a decently large chunk of your workforce and remove a valuable chunk of time from your build season (I have personally experienced this and I can tell you it is Not A Fun Time). So, what do you do if you get sick during build season?
Overall, it’s very important to take care of your health during Build Season. As much as I know there will be That One Kid who goes to a build meeting while sick, you don’t have to be that kid. You’re a responsible FIRST-er who knows how to build robots from the ground up, coding and/or physical build wise, and your team is counting on you. You have the freedom and the smarts to know not to risk accidentally getting the rest of your team sick with FIRST-itis (which, contrary to my mentor’s beliefs, is nowhere near as bad as LARP-itis) and can keep yourself and others healthy.
Remember: If all else fails, wash your hands. There’s a lot of germs in a lot of places; the best way to keep yourself healthy is to prevent yourself from getting sick from the get-go.
The discussion of politics sometimes feels somewhat like defense being played - a little like the gif above. On my team, politics is an unavoidable and often amusing discussion. Usually, it consists of Ronald Reagan fanboys regaling a time they never experienced and awkward posturing regarding topics such as “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” Sometimes, the topics become absurd, such as why the US should have Brazil as a primary ally during World War Three (we shouldn’t).
With the current political atmosphere, politics is as divisive as ever, and coming from team with a lot of political opinions, navigating that can be complicated. The obvious answer is: avoid it! However, what’s the fun in that? Sometimes, talking politics (and even religion) can be an entertaining use of time as the build season hours get longer and longer.
Firstly, be civil. Whether or not there’s consensus on a subject isn’t an excuse to lose your temper or your humanity. While politics may be interesting to talk about, it’s not an excuse to throw punches.
Additionally, if you have another team member purposely being antagonistic, don’t take the bait. There’s no reason to take the low road. If you think the discussion could lead into a fight, don’t begin the discussion.
Admit when you’re wrong! This one goes whether or not you’re talking about politics, especially when regarding misinformation. You can definitely learn something new when talking to someone about issues that really matter to them, and make sure you keep phrases like, “I hadn’t thought of it like that,” in your arsenal. There’s always more to learn!
Be compassionate! Many people are personally affected by political issues which leads to differing views on the subject. Everyone has reasons for why they believe the things they do. Of course, if someone is diminishing your humanity, there’s no reason for this, but make sure to have empathy when discussing something controversial.
Know when to walk away! Whether it’s just not the right time for politics in the shop or you can’t personally handle it - that’s OK! After all, there is a robot to build!
Being cramped together with your team isn’t always a fun experience, but take the opportunity to learn from others and make sure that they learn from you too.
-Kiran L. 2826
Even though I’ve graduated high school, I’m just as excited to learn what the new competition will be about as I was when I was still competing. At the time of writing this, that knowledge is a mystery: My theory is that you all will be required to use pneumatics in some way, shape, or form (though I won’t be surprised if I’m wrong).
The thrill of the day of Kickoff has always been something I’ve enjoyed. When I was still a part of my team, I was able to attend all four Kickoff events for each competition (That’d be Stronghold, Recycle Rush, Aerial Assist, and Ultimate Ascent). The filler videos are always hilariously cheesy, the animation explaining the rules of the game are always adorable (The robot with the boot is the real MVP), and the collaboration between teammates gushing about robot ideas the moment Kickoff ends is always incredibly inspiring. I’m sure I speak for many, if not all, FIRST Alumni when I say that I’ll miss being able to attend Kickoff.
I know that a lot of you will have meetings the day of Kickoff, and that you’ll start building that week (if not the same day) after planning what you want your bot to be able to do. In six short weeks, your ~120 pound masterpieces will be the result of individual thought crafted into a machine for competition.
I, along with all other FIRST Alumni, wish those competing this year a lovely build season! I hope you never lose your allen wrenches, screws, and other tools! For those in cold climates, I hope your build site is heated and comfortably warm.
-Wheatley, Team 2421 Alumni
FRC Kickoff 2017 – FIRST Steamworks
We hope that everybody is as excited for Kickoff as us, because this game is certainly something else.
As they said, it’s the first year that we’ll have human players on the team and that’s extremely exciting! The entire game as a whole is extremely interesting and we hope that everyone will succeed this year. Stronghold was a great game, but in my opinion this one looks even better!
There’s quite a lot to this game, so get to reading the game manual and watching the videos if you haven’t!
Something very exciting happened during the stream! We noticed two people FIRST staff wearing our lapel pins, once of which was Woodie Flowers!
Here’s a closeup of the our pins:
We hope that everybody has a safe and fun build season. Thank you Woodie Flowers for wearing one of our pins! It means a lot to us!
– Jaye B. 2729
The clocks are ticking; there’s only two more days until Kickoff! There’s a lot to think about during this time, such as designing and building a robot, writing code, finishing Chairman’s essays, preparing scouting systems, the list goes on and on. Last, but certainly not least, comes dating.
Dating is always tricky, but it can be even more difficult during build season. It’s hard finding time around robotics to balance homework, self-care, jobs, and relationships. As an LGBT+ student, all these factors and more come into play. By dating, you might risk outing yourself or others; and accidentally creating drama on the team if relations are not kept business-like and graciously professional. Hopefully after reading this, maneuvering the robotics dating field will be much easier!
Dating is always complicated, but if you handle it maturely, your relationship can survive the stress of build and competition season. Good luck to all teams as you take on FIRST Steamworks!
-August S. 2194
Three more days until kickoff! You know what this means: pizza, caffeine, and no sleep for 42 days.
However, despite all the jokes we all make about awful diets and bad sleep habits, self-care is something we all need to remember during build season. Here are some tips to stay healthy as we approach a time when our health often, unfortunately, ends up as a low priority.
Good luck, and remember: safety and your health come FIRST.
About LGBTQ+ of FIRST
LGBTQ+ of FIRST is an organization dedicated to raising awareness and acceptance of LGBTQ+ participants in FIRST Robotics. LGBTQ+ of FIRST was started to spread visibility of the LGBTQ+ community within FIRST and help teams become safe spaces for their members.