Category Archive: Daily Recap


Feb 03 2015

12 More Meeting Days to Bag N’Tag!!

Wow, how the time has flown! The team has reached that magical time in build season when everyone knows exactly what to do and how [ and no one runs into each other in the workshop any more!]. I could look back, and reminisce on how the team has become a family to each other, and how FIRST means so much more than just an acronym to the rookies now.

Even though we only have two weeks or so [eek!!!!!] left to build season, our design has been forced to be altered again. Only instead of a major structural change like last year, we have simply had to mildly redesign our robot to be underweight instead of overweight like it was by the end of last week. Thankfully, this year it was easier, so the changes were quicker to make.

I can confidently say that  excitement about the competition season and seeing the finished robot has energized the team and  we all have caught our second wind [with regards to robotics]. I hope that everyone else out there, teams 1 through [whatever number FIRST is up to by now] is having as much fun as the Gearheads are!





Jan 23 2015

A Belated Post

This post is a chronicle of the tasks which occurred on Thursday, January 22 2015. A small team of our freshmen worked on finding an efficient method of securing our robot’s batteries inside a moving tool cart; which we will then be able to bring to competition with a minimum of fuss. Two separate sub-teams use our milling machine to mill different pieces of metal for our robot, and our most knowledgeable electrical team member  wired up a series of magnetic sensors that would allow the programmers to practice the code they have been continuously writing.

Did You Know?

“The term “robot” was first coined by Czech writer Karel Čapek in his play R.U.R. while term “robotics” was first coined by Isaac Asimov in his 1941 science fiction short-story “Liar!”. ”

See the article below for more interesting robotics and robot related facts!



Jan 21 2015

3….2….1….Blast Off

Our team has accomplished a lot of work since I last updated! We were just recently graced with another mentor who has shown the team a method for tracking our priorities so that we can efficiently build our robot.

Speaking of our robot….. it looks radically different from our robots in past years, and we are learning new skills while working on it! Our new method of organizing the team started the team down the right path, but our new mentor introduced a style of keeping track of priorities and needs-to-be-done which has fully transformed the team’s management style into that of a corporate organization, which prepares our Gearheads for real life and real jobs.

I say ‘thanks’ again to our newest mentor, may he decide to stay for as long as the team exists!



Jan 09 2015

This season’s competition: Recycle Rush!

Finally, competition season has begun! We are 7 days into Build Season, and everyone is so very excited to have their challenge. This year it is Recycle Rush!

The game is based off of recycling; so the objective of this year’s enterprise is to score points by stacking totes on specifically designated spots of the field and collecting ‘litter’ (solid green pool noodles, which are 4’10″ in length and have an outside diameter of 2.6″) which can be placed in green containers (trash cans that have a whole in the middle of the lid to allow for a piece of litter to enter it).

If you are interested in learning more about the game, please look at the link below. It goes to the FIRST official game video, which all the teams viewed on Kick Off day, last Saturday the 3rd.

The competition video starts at 26:30, but the entire video is chock full of information for the teams regarding this year’s game.

This is the official game reveal, as it is called.

As for our team, we have been very efficient and productive, mostly in thanks to our mentors for providing guidance and the team, which is entering it’s 4th year, for understanding how to work together and be highly productive.

I will be updating when I can, so make sure to keep an eye on our website for more updates on the team as we figure out how to play the game!

~ Gearheadette



Apr 16 2014

See You in St. Loui!

FIRST® NRG4055′s bot “Scratch That” was given the thumb-up by FedEx driver Dave and is on its way to the Championships in St. Louis!


Apr 15 2014


Words cannot even begin to describe how thrilled we are as a team to have qualified for the FIRST Championships in St. Louis Missouri! This is the first time that the team has qualified to attend the competition in St. Louis through a matter of points and WINNING THE 1st FIRST NEW ENGLAND CHAMPIONSHIPS!!! The Gearheads did go to St. Louis in their rookie year, by way of winning the Rookie All-Star award which is awarded to  “the rookie team exemplifying a young but strong partnership effort, as well as implementing the mission of FIRST to inspire students to learn more about science and technology.” that is the exact definition from the FIRST website.

Our winning alliance with the Gaelhawks (#230) the Bobcats (#177) was fantastic. Our reaction when we won the 1st FIRST New England Championships is indescribable. We hope to have the opportunity to work with such outstanding teams again in St. Louis. Our ability to work with these two great teams, the awesome robot that we put together during build season, and the team’s efficiency in scouting, made our time in Boston wonderful. We plan to keep our positive mojo as we bring our competitive spirit into St. Louis.

Apr 13 2014


Mentor’s Log, Sunday April 23, 2014, 7:21 am: Waking up at the hotel after three days of exciting competition realizing that it wasn’t a dream. The FIRST Northwestern Robotics Gearheads worked their way up the ranks in a field of the best teams in New England, got themselves noticed, was selected to be on the #3 alliance, and are the undefeated finals NEFIRST winners with that alliance. These students haven’t even finished their third year as a team and earned their place to compete in the Championships against the best in the world! I was already the most proud mentor after the team earned the numerous awards that they had this season… But to have made it to the finals in two CT district events, earning gold in the New England Championship event, and now a seat in the world FIRST Championships?! WOW! I am overwhelmed with pride for these students and with gratitude to those who have supported them. Thank you to our school, parents, local businesses, and corporate sponsors. Without your support, this organization couldn’t function. To the mentors of this young team, your endless hours of working with and for this team astounds me. The students have achieved great things in a short time under your guidance. Your ability to share your expertise while facilitating and allowing the students to really do this on their own… YOU I thank, we all thank! This mentor wakes up feeling blessed.

-Rachel V.

Apr 11 2014

Entrepreneurship Award in Boston!

Here is how it was introduced…

“The Entrepreneurship Award sponsored by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers celebrates the entrepreneurial spirit by recognizing a team that has developed the framework for a comprehensive business plan to scope, manage, and achieve team objectives.

We have a team that had no fears
Who faced a trifecta of challenges without any tears.
Together as a family they sought new cash
With customized letters and grants, they built a stash.
They got FIRST teams together for a Halloween dance
To build connections and improve their chance.
Building their team over three years
They’ve used every one of their entrepreneurial gears.
We salute this team as their message spreads
We’re proud to reward the Northwestern Robotics Gearheads!

Congratulations Team #4055 – Northwestern Robotics Gearheads.”

Mar 23 2014


Mentor’s Log, March 23, 2014, 10:08pm: Last night, Safety Captain Matt saw three deer on the way home from Southington. Tonight, FIRST NRG 4055 finished the two-days of qualifying rounds in third place (yay!). NRG was a team captain which allowed them to select two other teams to play in their three-team alliance in the final rounds. NRG and their alliance played in all three levels of the final rounds landing in THE final two out of three matches having to play all three (yay, yay, yay!)! Though the team did not take the “winner” title at the Southington Regional Event, they were “finalists” (second place alliance). They also won a prestigious Entrepreneurship Award for the second year in a row. In the team’s three short years, NRG 4055 has worked hard and earned the respect of veteran teams as they continued to make a name for themselves. Again, I have to state how extremely proud I am of this group of students. Thank you to all who support this organization, especially ALCOA Foundation, our Northwestern Regional family, our community businesses, and of course our personal families.

Side note: We are proud Northwestern Regional High School Highlanders (deer).  :)

Mar 23 2014

Starting day two

Northwestern Robotics Gearheads (NRG) ended the day yesterday in 5th place of 32 teams. Today they have more qualifying matches to play to see if they make it into the final rounds at the Southington District FIRST event. GO GEARHEADS!

Mar 10 2014

As we wake up Monday morning…

We reflect on what a terrific weekend FIRST® NRG 4055 had! We neither advanced past the quarter finals nor won an award… But we had a great time at the Groton District event! Team NRG was fully engaged the entire weekend. The drive team was continually planning strategies with alliance teams to play the most effective game possible. Build, Electrical, and Programming students were called in to make modifications during the event. The pit crew and safety captain manned the pit area and entertained questions from the public about our bot. The scouting team did the very important job of taking notes on all the other teams. This is critical for the drive team so they may plan a good strategy. Mentor Shelly volunteered to ensure visitors in the pit area were safe and distributed safety glasses. Mentor Tom volunteered on the playing field to assist the announcer and energize the audience with his enthusiasm. Mentor Michele was announced as a candidate for the prestigious Woodie Flowers Award which will be announced at the New England Championship. The team shared robot components with another team to get them up and running. We cheered on our alliance teams. We rejoiced in others’ victories. NRG was elated when their friends the Enforcers Team 178 received the well-deserved Gracious Professionalism® Award. EVERYONE on FIRST® NRG 4055 played an important role to the team unit. and we helped others as well. And what made this mentor most proud was how well the students represented their community with their innate Gracious Professionalism® and displaying their Coopertition® spirit. GO GEARHEADS!

Submitted by Rachel

Mar 08 2014

Groton, Day One.

NRG 4055 ended the day in 19th place of 33… Their lowest rank of the day. If history repeats itself, NRG will climb in the ranks tomorrow as they’ve done in every event over the past two years!

Feb 27 2014

What a Family!

NRG 4055 is grateful for their family. Our parent-mentors who volunteer so many hours to guide the team and facilitate the learning and progress our students make, and the parent volunteers who feed us… Thank you for all you do! Thank you for your support! We love our Gearhead Family! Go Gearheads!

Feb 25 2014

Button, Button, Who’s Got a Button?

We do! This seasons new buttons are on order and arriving next week… Just in time for our first competition of the Aerial Assist season! Click on “view full post” below to see the designs!

ButtonFtD2014 copyButtonISBS2014 copy

Feb 18 2014

Last Day!

The Gearheads are at the Farmington Enforcers 178. It’s 7:30pm and we just shared a yummy pot-luck dinner. Now we’ve got under 5 hours to finish the bot and test it on the Enforcers’ Game field. Here’s a picture of us working on the bot… image

Feb 16 2014

3 days to go

Today the robot was driven to great success! Last year’s driver took it for a spin in the school cafeteria and each of the sub groups worked well, from the arm to the drive train. There was one minor difficulty with the attachment to the catcher arm. It refused adamantly to do it’s job, and is now being fixed.

Tomorrow we plan to practice at the school again, honing the driver’s skills for the competition.

Feb 15 2014

4 days to go

Tonight, the team worked diligently, and their work was rewarded! The body of the ‘bot is now officially complete!! Cause for celebration, for sure, yet on top of that,the electrical is done! The team worked from nine in the morning to approximately six at night to get it completed. It was totally worth it!

Feb 13 2014

5 days to go

There are now 5 days to go until Bag N’ Tag. Bag N’ Tag symbolizes the end of the build season for all the teams, meaning hands off the robot after February 18th. This means that all the teams have the exact same amount of time to spend on building their robot.  Bag N’ Tag is a big event, where many teams get together  show off their ‘bots, practice on a mock practice field, and celebrate the end of a successful build season. After all, all’s well that ends well.

Feb 11 2014

In the Works

The final robot is in the works! The team has worked diligently over the last few meetings to great effect. It is now built of solid c-channel which provide the structural support which is needed for our catapult design.

Our public relations officer is uber-delighted with the letter that she has been drafting. She has been using her talents to the best advantage of the team, while at the same time practicing real world skills which will serve her well later in life.

The programing team is also mondo-delighted with what it is doing. They are trying to find rainbow colored LED light strings that they can make them flash on command.

Two members of the build team finished hooking  up the motor that draws back the shooter straps, and now they are working on a motor that will release the straps to launch the ball.


Feb 04 2014

The Past 2 Days

The team has been working diligently and even extended the meeting tonight by an hour so that they can have an adequate amount of time. The weather is persnickety and weather or not we have a meeting is dependent on it.  The team is finalizing the catcher design on the prototype, and it looks like it is progressing well. The team morale is high, and work is being completed.

Feb 01 2014

changing gears over the past two meetings

The decision about whether or not we would continue working on the current design, or move to a new one was made. It went to an anonymous vote which was staggeringly in favor of an alternate design. At the next meeting, the team began to work on a new prototype. This time around, the prototype is all wood, and includes the arm mechanism which will lift the ball onto the shooter mechanism. The team is  working  well together on this and is completely devoted to getting a working robot for before February 18th, called Bag N’ Tag day by the teams. The robot must be completely done by midnight that night.

We are optimistic that the robot will be done with enough time to practice with our friends the Enforcers, team 178, who have graciously agreed to  shared their practice field with NRG.

Jan 27 2014

A Decision was Made? Possibly

Tonight we, as a team, voted on whether or not to continue working with the current design, or to move on to an alternate design. We had an even number of students present who voted, and the result was a tie. Many did not realize this was a possibility because in previous discussions the team seemed to be leaning heavily in one direction. Because of the result of the voting, the mentors suggested, and the team agreed to continue improving the current design, and after two and a half full work sessions, the team agreed to vote again. If this vote was a tie, than the whole team would whole-heartedly get behind working on the current design. If the vote goes toward the current design, we continue working on that. If more vote for an alternate design, than work on an alternate design will begin work immediately.

Tomorrow night, we vote whether or not to continue with the current design.

Jan 25 2014

The Final Shooter Prototyping Day

Today is the deadline for the prototype, which the team specified earlier this week. We hope to use this sling-shot method, but in case it does not work, there are always other methods.  The rules have come into play a lot. They play a very large part in designing the robot and prototyping. There is no use in building a wonderful prototype that breaks every single rule that is applicable. The rules also often come under debate because each team member and mentor has different ideas what the wording FIRST in the manual used means. However, this healthy conflict is what allows the Northwestern Regional Gearheads to be so successful as a team.

Our President worked tirelessly to start the bumpers, only to be stalled by the fact that we do not have access to some more of the wood and materials which are needed.

Our Vice President finished up the drive train with the help of the Officer of Public Relations. This was the most successful part of the evening. We now have a good base for what ever method for launching the ball is used in the end.


Jan 24 2014

Shooting Mechanisms, Will Flight be Achieved?

The drive train team has finished assembling the drive train, the skeleton base of the robot, so now we have a rectangle with the SIMs (motors) and the wheels are in  the process of being put on.

There is now a prototype, which the team is confident will accurately represent the finished robot, after it is built of course. At the moment there are two rails which support the ball, with a wok lid being used as the launch pad which touches the ball. This insures that the twisted elastic exercise bands do not touch the ball and interfere with the flight path. The team is hopeful that this idea will work.

Jan 17 2014

It Worked!

Tonight, the Build team continued to build the drive train while half of the design team worked on getting more precise data for the a different option of propultion which we will use if our sling shot method does not pan out.

The other half of design team has  been working diligently to finalize the complicated equations which will allow the team to know the number of latex-free bands needed to launch the ball.

Programing continued to work with the variable pressure systems. This is one of the resources we hope to utilize on the robot we are working towards. The electrical team helped programming by running all the wires which connect the control board to the variable pressure systems.

Jan 16 2014

New Knowledge

Tonight the team decided that to properly be able to utilize the pneumatic systems, they had to LEARN. After all, learning equals knowledge, and knowledge is power. The more powerful our team is, the further through the competition levels we go, and hopefully all the way to SAINT LOUIS!!!

The programming team successfully worked the code to operate the solenoid. They worked side by side with the electrical team, who wired all the electrical components together, and the pneumatics team who made sure that the solenoid was being used in a manner that did not place anyone at risk.

The main function of the pneumatics team is to learn as much as humanly possible about pneumatics and all its associated dangers. This is a good thing!

While the team acknowledges that there is a certain amount of risk involved with working around the various tools of the trade, so to speak, we DO NOT take lightly these risks. To quote FIRST, “the hardest fun you’ve ever had”. They DID NOT say “the most dangerous fun you’ve ever had” The objective is to be safe and have fun at the same time. And, of course, Build A Robot!!!

Jan 15 2014

A New Idea, Perhaps?

The Design team is up in the air about which plan to go with… Tick-tock, tick-tock…

Electrical and Programming worked together again tonight, and figured out how the pneumatics, solenoids, and other accessories work. They  team’s understanding of the pneumatics we might use.

Jan 14 2014

Can We Defy Gravity with Latex-Free Tubing?

It was a challenge at first to figure out a way to defy gravity for this monstrously huge ball, but we have a design that will hopefully achieve the anticipated result. The design team engineered a method to launch it with latex-free tubing, using a slingshot method. Since we have a team member who is allergic to latex, the design team is being  forced to test their collective ingenuity to utilize a similar material that would not take a valued team member out of commission.After some trial and error, the material is proving to be difficult. Stayed tuned for an update for the out come for this challenge.

The programming team “ironed out some code” according to our Vice-President, Matt, which allows the compressors and solenoids to work.

Jan 04 2014

Kick-off at Farmington

Team NRG met at NWR7 in frigid -5 degrees weather to board the bus and head to Farmington High School. Today we learn what this seasons competition is going to be about and we get our build kit. MichKayla and Roka represented our team in a pre-show game. Silly fun! We will learn what this seasons game is at 10:15. You can watch the live feed from NASA at .