Our Mission Statement
Founded primarily for homeschoolers who otherwise might not have such opportunities, MAYHEM is eager to help all students experience the benefits of terrific programs like FIRST®LEGO® League and FIRST Robotics Competition.
Who Are We?
Team 1519, Mechanical Mayhem, is a FIRST Robotics Competition team made up principally of homeschoolers from southern New Hampshire. This team was formed primarily around a group of high school students who had “graduated” from Mindstorms Mayhem, a FIRST LEGO League team that won the Director’s Award at the International Invitational in Atlanta, Georgia, in April 2004. With this award came a challenge grant from The LEGO Group to create an FRC team and compete in a regional competition in 2005. The Mindstorms Mayhem team accepted the challenge and Mechanical Mayhem was born.
Team Purpose and Goals
The purpose of this team is to give homeschooling high-schoolers the chance to be involved in the FRC program. Our goal is to learn the many valuable lessons in science, technology, and Gracious Professionalism® that the FRC program offers. The team also works toward building teamwork and respect for others’ opinions. We also strive to be a witness of our faith in the way that we interact with each other and with other teams, both in and out of competition.
From FLL to FRC
As members of Team Mindstorms Mayhem sat in the stands of the Georgia Dome in April of 2004, awaiting the honor of being named the International Director’s Award winners, they had front row seats to watch the finals of the FRC championships. It turned out to be a glimpse of their future. A challenge grant from the LEGO Group allowed the formation of Team 1519 Mechanical Mayhem and the chance for many former FLL members to grow into the ‘big’ leagues of FIRST Robotics.
Many members of Mechanical Mayhem have “graduated” from FLL teams like Mindstorms Mayhem and Mach 6, and they doubt that they would have become involved in FIRST Robotics without the experience of being on an FLL team. According to Ben Streeter, a former Mindstorms Mayhem member who is now a mechanical engineer and FRC mentor, “I don’t think that I would have started FRC if I hadn’t been a part of FLL. Participating on Mindstorms Mayhem really encouraged me to become part of Mechanical Mayhem.”
FLL has provided a framework for these students to build on as they go on to the next level of robotics. Mechanical Mayhem graduate Mechanical Mayhem graduate Steven B., now pursuing his PhD at Stanford University, says “FLL really allowed me to dive into robotics and programming in a way that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. A great many of the design, construction, and programming concepts are still the same. Sturdy construction is still sturdy construction, whether it be with LEGO, or with metal.” This wisdom is reiterated by many of his teammates. One skill veteran Mayhem member Nathan G, now a mechanical engineer, valued was “the ability to brainstorm and think about things before making changes.” Brian J, now an aeronautical engineer, also feels that without a sense of teamwork, “it would be impossible to win.” Other aspects of the FLL experience that carry over to FRC are creative thinking, strategy, and community awareness.
Many of Mechanical Mayhem’s team members have stayed involved with FLL by mentoring teams and have found the benefits to be mutual. Undoubtedly, the mentors contribute a great deal to the teams they work with. Steven B, once a member of FLL team Mach 6, received the Young Adult Mentor Award at the 2004 NH State Tournament in recognition of his outstanding work with five different FLL teams. Yet mentors have found that working with younger students has helped them to develop patience, given them an appreciation for different learning styles, helped them to teach and communicate better, and allowed them to fine-tune their leadership skills, all of which have been helpful at the FRC level.
While these students had the advantage of putting to use all of the things they learned in FLL, they recognized that FIRST robotics is a whole new world. They spent the ‘off-season’ coming up to speed. Coaches provided a rotating library of books on robotics, programming, and electronics. Team members were directed to helpful web sites from FIRST and veteran teams. Weekly team planning meetings and sub-team meetings provided a way to keep track of everyone’s progress.
Although it is a lot of work, as student members move on from FLL to FRC and beyond, the most valuable lessons they’ve learned stay with them. Christopher Jennings, a graduate of Daniel Webster College, now a software engineer, says, “FLL taught me skills at an early stage that many people don’t get to until high school or even college. These skills are not only applicable in robotics, but also in nearly everything I do.”