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First Robotics and Apple: End of the Year Blog

SWE has made incredible progress in K-12 outreach initiatives.
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This year, SWE has engaged in three major projects with goals to increase the number of SWENexters and SWENext clubs at the local level. A really special project has been a collaboration with FIRST Robotics and Apple, Inc. Apple has worked with FIRST Robotics partners to tackle the goal of increasing gender parity and inclusion for students who are interested in robotics by providing over $1,000,000 in funding to expand the number of teams. SWE’s goal was to create ten SWENext Clubs that would be official FIRST Robotics teams. These teams would have the opportunity to increase representation at a FIRST competition. Through our partnership, we were able to distribute grants to 15 SWENext Clubs/FIRST Robotics teams!

Luckily, SWE HQ staff including CEO Karen Horting were able to measure our impact in-person as we went to the FIRST Midwest Regionals to watch teams like PWNAGE compete as well as the FIRST Robotics Championship. Team Quixilver won in their Carver Division and the Pitt Pirates won a Spirit Award!

“Look out for that robot!” is something that you will hear often as you watch the excitement of all the teams in the pitt fixing their robots or preparing for their next match! While we met many of the teams in the pitt at the Championship, we also were able to interact with teams during the Innovation Faire at SWE’s booth recruiting 200+ adult advocates and students to join SWE and the SWENext program! One of the best parts of networking at this event was the number of women that were robotics coaches and the number of teams that had diverse young girls in leadership. Many of them were SWE sponsored teams.

Hear more about how additional funding gave these wonderful teams the opportunity to do some amazing things below!

Leland Robotics FRC 604 Quixilver

We are so grateful for the generous funding from Apple/SWE. The team had an outstanding year- winning the Carver Division by ranking 1st for the alliance selection with our new swerve drive. We placed 4th in the round-robin rounds at Einstein. Only two team members had ever been to a FIRST tournament before due to Covid! After the tournaments, we started mapping out our outreach activities. We started with e waste collection in April. We visited the pre-engineering classes at the local middle school (63 kids attended), and we held a community open house for robotics where an estimated 150+ people from the area learned about FIRST and our robotics team. We also partnered with the public library to update our FLL lessons to include the new Lego Spike kit. And finally, we are scheduled next week to attend the “Sensor Converge” conference in San Jose June 26-28, where we will show off the sensors we use on our 2022 robot and we invited our FTC team 8404 to join us. Zoom training classes for new 604 members have also started. And thanks to SWE funding, we are registered for ChezyChamps, an off-season event in October.

Attached are photos from the SWE visit at Champs.

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Markita Riley-Outreach and Student Programs Manager visited Leland Robotics Team Quixilver’s “Pitt” at the FIRST Robotics Championship in Houston, Texas.
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Markita Riley learning from Leland’s VP of Engineering and President how their robot works before their next match!

f(x) Robotics

This season we hosted our 2nd FLL tournament and attended Doyenne for the first time which is only for female and non-binary individuals. Since our off-season began we have gained several new members to the team and started many different projects. These projects include converting our intake to a pneumatic intake, designing and constructing a new drive station, learning how to build our first swerve drive, and teaching members how to program in preparation for the upcoming season. We were also approached by the Town of Smithfield to design and build a sewer inspection bot for them. Additionally, we are working on a special event planned for the fall pre-season focused on supporting project F.O.X which involves the EC departments of our local schools. Your continued support means the world to our growing team and we thank you!


We held a Robot open house for middle and high school students and had 3 new students decide to join the team. We also put on a weeklong summer camp called Xtreme Science for 20 elementary school kids featuring rockets and lots of dry ice! Thanks to the additional funding we can now register for multiple off season competitions including R2OC and Kettering Kickoff. Thanks for the continuing inspiration and support.


Thank you Apple/SWE for the generous support this season. We’ve had our most successful season so far – winning our two district events in Indiana and ranking high at our state championship. The CyberTooth team is well into our off-season summer activities. The team is hosting our annual summer camp for middle schoolers. Thanks to this additional funding we are preparing to travel to a few competition events this summer. Additional funding will also help us focus our efforts on recruiting more students.

Pitt Pirates 2642

Thank you Apple/SWE for your support of the Pitt Pirates and our support with underrepresented populations in Eastern NC. Your support helped in our initiative to create the Get the GIST sessions both virtually and face to face. (Girls in Science and Technology) We also created STEM Maker Carts for Boys and Girls Clubs in Eastern NC to help continue STEM activities when volunteers were not allowed to help due to COVID.

The Pitt Pirates were excited to present this program this spring at the World Championships in Houston and were awarded the Spirit Award in the Carver Division. Our team was pumped to meet SWE’s CEO, Karen Horting and SWE’s Manager of Outreach and Student Programs, Markita Riley in our booth at World’s!

The continued support from Apple/SWE allowed us in June to work with the Backyard Buddies, an underserved Hispanic population, by building our hallmark program, Robox Sumo. We also worked with the Korean-American Scientists and Engineers Association at East Carolina University Chapter by introducing young Asian children to engineering concepts with our Robox Sumo program. We were also featured on the FIRST Community Build the Future blogs on June 3. FIRST Community Build the Future

Our summer doesn’t stop with these activities. We have three weeks of FIRST Community Team FeaturesST camps planned at the Museum of Natural Sciences in Greenville, NC, an engineering camp with Building Hope, and two Girl Scout and Cub Scout activities for July and August with more to come. This couldn’t happen without the huge support from Apple/SWE. Thank you for being a proud supporter of STEM Education and building the future in the classrooms and labs!

Photos attached from the FRC World Championships and our Backyard Buddies program.

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Pitt Pirates meeting CEO Karen Horting at the FIRST Robotics Championship (
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Some of the team in action engaging students in engineering as a part of their Backyard Buddies program!

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Ladies FIRST

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This was the first season for the Ladies FIRST Team at Center Middle School and it was action-packed. We obtained two mentors from the community and met every week to learn about all aspects of FIRST. After the season, we built robots to play soccer and held a tournament. Thank you SWE and Apple for your support! This was a life-changing event for us and we can’t wait for next year!

Joebotics II

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We wish to thank SWE/Apple for their support. We had a great season.

The Jobotics Program expanded to two teams this year. After three league Meets (one of which we sponsored), they entered the St. Louis South League Tournament in 5th and 6th place (out of a league of 29 teams.) After the qualifying matches on the field, the teams ended up in 5th and 8th place. Both teams were selected for an Alliance, which is indicative of the solid performance of the robots and the teams on the field.

As part of our outreach, we took one of our robots to SciFest at the St. Louis Science Center.

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Adults were amazed at the sophistication of the robots and the little children couldn’t wait to get their hands and the controllers. (Next time we will modify the programs to travel at a slower speed when the throttles are pushed to the max!)


With funding from SWE we were able to host an event at our school. With Covid restrictions still in place, it was a challenge. We were told by more than one coach it was the best run meet they attended.

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The Theater department at our school reached out to us to build a mechanized prop for the school play, “Beauty and the Beast”. The extra funding from SWE made this possible. The director was thrilled with the result and already asked if we could build more robots in the future.

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Ipswich TIGERS

We had our most successful season ever! We were able to design an effective scoring mechanism and got selected for an alliance at both official district events we attended. This was a huge accomplishment for a team that had previously struggled to be competitive. We also went to the week 0 event in Bedford, NH, where our alliance won the whole event! We are planning on hosting a Java bootcamp at the high school for local teams over the summer. The funding from SWE has helped our team enormously, as we are able to afford upgrades and new parts for our bot that we wouldn’t have been able to previously. Attending events is also much easier to do without compromising future robot builds (expenses such as team t-shirts, team meals, and travel expenses for overnight events can really add up!). Thank you SWE and Apple!

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Magnesium Team #8090

Thank you for the funding and support from Apple/SWE. Our team has been grateful for so much generosity shown as we have tried to recoup from being out during COVID. This past season we started with mostly newcomers to Robotics with the exception of two members. Only one of those members had actual tournament experience. We have also added a parent mentor as well to our team and went into competition with a lot to learn. We enjoyed the competitions and learning from other teams! This year we even learned more about the software languages and about “driving” the robot. The funding not only helped us get the additional parts and supplies we needed, but it assisted us with travel needs, outreach to other schools and being able to host our first summer camp!

This year we were able to participate in one of the elementary school’s STEM nights and have our own station set up! Parents and students were able to learn about Robotics and see our Robot in action. We even provided some mini hands on activities for them to participate in with us. It was great! As a result we have now been asked to come to other elementary schools in our district to support their Science and STEM nights. Another part of our outreach that we were able to do this year was travel to two middle schools and help promote not only our school but our Robotics program as well. Our school doesn’t have sports so we highlight our Robotics team. We even were able to build a float and participate in one of the local parade’s this year. Our biggest new accomplishment- besides recruiting new members to our team and learning to create Robotics team paraphernalia to promote our team- was our summer camp. It was a week long and the 15 campers loved it! We loved the experience as well. We had more than 15 applicants however we were told to limit the number this first time to 15 due to adult staffing for monitoring.

Next year we are looking forward to hosting a two week camp with more students and learning more skills to continue to perform better in tournaments. Thanks to the funding we are also going to be able to participate in some off season events this year! Thank you again Apple/SWE!


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