Making It LOUD
In addition to building robots, TALON 540 believes that it is essential to give back to the community. Lead mentor Mr. Hurlburt constantly reminds members that "we are more than the robot." Thus, we strive to live by Woodie Flower's "gracious professionalism" paradigm during both the build and off seasons. To do this, TALON 540 uses a three-pronged approach towards community outreach which involves contributing to the Greater Richmond, the Godwin High School, and FIRST communities.
Outreach in the Community
Code Virginia Workshops
CodeVA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit built to promote computer science and computer programming all across Virginia. In the fall of last year, TALON 540 worked with Code Virginia and our sponsor mindsensors to create the Bombinibot workshops - targeted for under-privileged students in the inner-city area.
Since then, we have traveled to numerous elementary schools and daycare centers, teaching students the basis of programming through the use of a friendly, low cost robot called BumbleBeeBot. Running on a Scratch-like Programming Language, it is very engaging and easy to understand for kids. In the coming year, we hope to reach more schools, eventually expanding this into a nationwide project.
Webelos & Girl Scouts Engineering Merit Badge
Since 2012 Talon 540 and the Boy Scouts of America have been working in a concerted effort to promote STEM. We have together been hosting robotics workshops for the Webelo age-group, in particular, which qualifies participating youth for the BSA engineering badge. We feel this initiative has been especially successful, as Webelo ‘troops’ are registering for our seminars in increasing numbers. This program has recently been expanded to also cater Girl Scouts.
Annual Student-Run FLL Tournament
This year, TALON 540 hosted its fourth annual FLL tournament, a Virginia-state Qualifier for 24 youth teams from around the Commonwealth. Every year, the tournament is a huge success in-part by its sheer size, but also the smoothness with which it was operated. TALON hopes to continue hosting and organizing a FLL tournament every year.
Robot Showcase at Science Museum of Virginia
Every summer, TALON 540 showcases their robot at the Science Museum of Virginia, providing an introduction of FIRST Robotics and its core visions to families.
Outreach at School
T-Shirt Shooting Robot
Talon 540 has fabricated a t-shirt shooting robot that is toured to promote our mission, STEM, and FIRST. Our t-shirt shooting robot has attended a multitude of school athletic events to engage the student body and garner awareness for FIRST Robotics.
Freshman Curriculum Fair and Open House
Each year, Mills E. Godwin High School holds a night to introduce upcoming freshman to the numerous elective opportunities which are offered. To promote technology education, TALON 540 sets up a table with information about FIRST and the various technology classes offered at Godwin. We make a point of showcasing our robot, which never fails to turn heads as a result of its sheer size and intricacy.
Godwin Spirit 5K
In past years, TALON 540 collaborated with the school track team to organize a Spirit 5K marathon to raise money for the Godwin student fund, which benefits struggling students in our school community. This was a great experience for our robotics team to work alongside fellow classmates to support a noble cause.
Library Maker Space
In collaboration with Godwin High School’s librarians, TALON 540 has brought STEM-related activities into the school’s weekly Maker Space program. From designing LEGO robots to constructing marble towers, Maker Space manifests an opportunity for all Godwin students to independently explore engineering and robotics in a creative atmosphere.
Maker Space provides a medium through which TALON 540 can introduce themselves to the student body. Through these interactions, many students later go on to join the team. To further develop this program, we plan on donating a 3D printer to the library for all to use.