Astronomic Adventure

Team Pangaea 2018-19 Season Blog

Mars Madness

Outreach — Pari Pandey — October 22nd, 2018

GIRL POWER: Winners of "Life On Mars!"

"Is there life on Mars?" — Would-be Astronomer, David Bowie

Have YOU ever wondered what life would be like on Mars? How would we cook our food, build our houses, and, you know, breathe?

On October 21st, we, alongside fellow Mumbai teams R Factor (6024) and Elev8 (7539) hosted our very first OUTREACH event of the year: "Life On Mars!"

Over the course of a Sunday afternoon, 150 Middle School students aged 9-14 from schools across Mumbai worked in small teams to create physical solutions to help combat major hurdles in establishing a colony on Mars. These included, among others, oxygen, shelter, food, water, and transportation— all of which would have to be sorted out before people would ever be able to settle on the red planet.

Every team was competing for the ultimate, grand prize: a paid $200 FIRST Lego League registration, as well as further support and mentorship throughout the season! However, while this event was technically a competition, in following with the FIRST mantra, it was more of "coopertition" event, with teams cooperating at times and sharing materials as needed.

Getting Started

To start off the day, we invited Mr. Luke Wayne, one of our HS associate principals at ASB, to give a brief introduction, reinforcing the growing relevance of STEM in the modern day. We also had a student speaker from each team (including Team Pangaea's Captain, Zack Amiton) share their FIRST experiences so far. Soon after a short snack, "Life On Mars!" was cleared for take off.

I, along with our mentor, John Kilbane, served as the hosts for the day, introducing ourselves with a few amusing slides, before kicking off the first part of the day, our icebreaker: The Martian Takeover! The game, a quick activity to get the kids up and moving, was a special edition of "Rock, Paper, Scissors," in order to nominate the TRUE ruler of Mars! After a flurry of games, our queen emerged victorious, winning a cardboard crown and robotics kit for her school.

And with that, the event was underway!

The Design Cycle — Empathy and Define

After the ‘marsvelous’ introduction, we had student mentors from R Factor, Elev8, and Pangaea join each competing team. John and I then continued by introducing and explaining the Design Cycle—‘Empathy,’ ‘Define,’ ‘Idea,’ ‘Prototype,’ and ‘Test’— a process every problem-solver goes through, no matter the industry he or she works in.

Teams started by spending around 15 minutes on ‘Empathy’— the most important part of the process— to truly know and understand the problem at hand, with the help of their mentors when it came to researching Mars to the best of their abilities, as such a topic would take years to grasp fully. They then spent around ten minutes on ‘Define’ to narrow down to one specific problem, as they could not tackle each issue.

Brainstorming and Building — Ideate and Prototype (and Test)

The next 30 minutes were devoted to ideating, and coming up with as many solutions as possible. Using an "alphabet" system (coming up with an idea for every letter of the alphabet) to encourage creativity and ensuring the members were receptive to each others' ideas, groups worked with their student mentors to come up with and narrow down on how they would potentially tackle their problem.

With this, research and prototyping were underway! Groups set to work starting to build a model of their best idea, and doing the necessary research to ensure that their idea could feasibly work. Teams had a working lunch, during which to work out the kinks in their solutions, and build their prototype, as each group was tasked with giving a 3-5 minute presentation on their designs to various judges—of which many were engineers themselves—stationed throughout the room.

By the end of the working lunch, teams put the finishing touches on their prototypes, and put their creativity on full display for their presentations! From volcano-powered rust electrolysis to create oxygen to an intricately designed greenhouse (and a model complete with real plants), the room was a flurry of frantic cutting, gluing, and practicing, as time came to show off their hard work!

Judging Pause & Robotics Activities

As the judges made to finalize the winning team, the floor was open to the kids, who, having finished their presentations, were free to partake in a variety of robotics activities stationed around the room! Along with R Factor, we pulled out our 'Power Up' robots for the kids to pilot, along with this year's 'Into Orbit' FLL table for the kids to get a feel for (and try their hand at) programming EV3 kits. We also had a number of these kits set up around the room for teams to play around with and construct.

Finally, with all presentations and judging complete, everyone returned to their seats for the climactic results! After a tough round of judging, a consensus had been reached. The winners were... (drum-roll, please!)

Team Bizarre Fusion from Ryan International School

Isha Deewale, Bianca Verma, and Riti Arya

Congratulations, girls!

All in all, "Life On Mars!" was a massive success—energy levels were high all day, as teams worked and cheered each other on wonderfully. Everybody not only learned a lot and explored the vast possibilities of being on Mars (which is very topical, as it is becoming more and more of a reality each day) but was also able to think critically and collaboratively to design innovative solutions. Moving forward, we'd like to keep this in mind and try and host more frequent events like these to get our local community as involved as possible with STEM. We also have a smaller outreach event coming up (featuring a robot I've heard is a wonderful dancer...), so stay tuned!

That's all for Outreach this week! In a few weeks, you will hear from Team Pangaea's Design team, so make sure to stay tuned on our various social media platforms to get regular updates from Team Pangaea. And, of course, look out for our next mini-event, where some great moves will be shown off at ASB's Incredible India on November 17th!

System Online

Media — Dev Khanna — October 15th, 2018

Hi! Welcome to what is (hopefully) going to be the first of many monthly updates from Team Pangaea. Quite fittingly, the Media Committee was granted the great honor of writing the first (well, second, but the first never saw the light of day) blog post. Our committee is responsible for documenting everything that Team Pangaea does, from our outreach events, to regular meetings, to making content for our social media accounts, to making memes instead of paying attention in class.

These last couple weeks have been very productive. For our off-season, Team Pangaea has been organized into five distinct committees: Media, Finance, Outreach, Design, and Build. This year, as our team leader Zachary puts it, is Team Pangaea's "year of organization," and so far, we're already off to a better start than last year.

And speaking of last year, what a fantastic rookie year it was. We had a fantastic experience in Australia, and we never would've dreamed of reaching the World Championships our first year as a team. Though we did decently well for ourselves, we learnt that we had a TON of things to improve upon—looking at the ways other teams organized themselves, and all the amazing robots on display, it'd be impossible not to want to step up our game this year. Sincerely, though, the role that every team—rookie or otherwise—we met last year played in helping us cannot be understated. The FIRST community has been so welcoming and friendly. So, thank you! And an even bigger thank you to R Factor (6024) for everything and then some. FRC India this year is going to be great!

One of the many lessons we took away from last year is that regular meeting during off-season is an absolute must. By the end of build season, we were still scrambling to get basic administrative things established, all while putting together our robot. So, this year, we've started biweekly meeting, and so far, we've already made a decent dent:

Finance has been busy reaching out to all amazing sponsors from last year (we couldn't have done it without them), and reaching out to other companies that might be interested in helping us out. Design has been hard at work putting together mock-ups for some new Team Pangaea hoodies, logos, pins, t-shirts, and, of course, posters. Build has had their hands full with our middle school's First Lego League team (name TBD), and ordering tools that we will need once build season starts. Outreach has been working for weeks on our Life On Mars event, a design-thinking challenge for MS students from across local schools across Mumbai. And Media, of course, has had our hands full getting our documentation on! We interviewed all of our committee leaders, and are making an off-season documentary that should be done shortly.

On the horizon, we're going to be filming throughout the Life On Mars event (should be up on our website soon after the event), and we've a bunch of different ideas for projects throughout the off-season—not to mention our Chairman's Video—so keep an eye on the website to see what we post next!

That's all from us for now! Next up is the Outreach team, so until then, stay tuned on our various social media platforms to get regular updates from Team 6813!