Van Horn High School’s FIRST robotics team
Cyberbotic Independence Alliance (CIA), Team #6563
We would like to introduce our Van Horn High School FIRST® Tech Challenge (FTC®) robotics team – the Cyberbotic Independence Alliance, also known as “CIA.” Our coach, Mrs. Cox, applied for and was awarded grants from the national FIRST® Foundation and LEGO Foundation, as well as the KCSTEM Alliance to start the FTC program within the Independence School District (ISD). From what we understand, our Van Horn CIA team is the first-ever registered FTC team in our school district.
Why the Blue Man Group?
You may have already seen our CIA shirts and our mascots, the “Blue Man Group,” walking around the hallways after school. Electric blue is one of the colors on the FIRST® logo and is one of main colors of our challenge this year. We also like the performing group by the same name, so we thought it was a good fit for our team. In addition, you can see one of our Blue Man Group members featured in an instructional video that our CIA team produced to help future rookie teams with their first season (please visit www.tinyurl.com/ciarobotics to see the video). We are also finishing our website, and you will be able to access the website through our coach’s ISD website soon. We are also in the works developing an invention idea for a national contest – stay tuned for more details.
What is FTC® robotics?
FTC robotics is a high school introductory program into robotics in which students learn how to build and program a mid-sized robot using aluminum TETRIX® parts. One of the goals of FIRST® is to encourage school districts to have a progression of robotics programs from elementary to high school (Jr. FLL, FLL, FTC, and FRC) allowing students to acquire a strong background in engineering and technology by the time they attend college. Our coach hopes that Van Horn students who go through the program will strongly consider going into a STEM (Science-Technology-Engineering-Math) field when they go to college. The newly-formed Van Horn FTC team “CIA,” along with the well-established district FRC robotics team who specialize in large-sized robots (FIRST Bots of Independence, “FBI”), provide Independence high school students with additional opportunities to engage in engineering and technology.
The FTC game challenge is different every year – this year challenge is “Ring It Up!” For more information concerning this season’s challenge, please visit http://www.usfirst.org/roboticsprograms/ftc/game.
Meet Our Coach and Robotics Mentor:
Coach Debbie Cox has been a science and math teacher for several years in the KC area, and has had many titles in addition to being a classroom teacher (e.g. science department chair, science curriculum committee, chemical safety coordinator, etc.). Mrs. Cox has received several awards including ABOVE AND BEYOND Teaching Award, Teacher Perfect Attendance Award, and was featured on a website honoring women who have made a difference in their communities. Along with weekly science labs, Mrs. Cox’s students actively participate in the Greater Kansas City Science and Engineering Fair as well as many other activities and competitions. Mrs. Cox currently teaches chemistry at Van Horn High School.
Before Mrs. Cox was a teacher, she worked in R&D surfactant chemistry developing antifoams and surfactants. One of her antifoam formulas was used in a product that could be found at retail stores. Mrs. Cox was also the Chemical Hygiene Officer and the ISO Auditor for her chemical company.
Mrs. Cox has coached robotics for several years, and has had some amazing teams. Throughout the years, Mrs. Cox’s robotics teams have been awarded robotic championship trophies, medals, and pennants. One of her teams was even honored with a KC City Hall resolution presented to them in person by the mayor of Kansas City. Mrs. Cox’s robotics teams have developed several different inventions, one of which received a patent last year. Along with the inventions, one of Mrs. Cox’s robotics teams was chosen by Time Warner Cable to be featured on a national public service announcement with WILL.I.AM from the Black Eyed Peas. Mrs. Cox’s team was invited to attend the White House Science Fair last year, and some of the team members were able to shake President Obama’s hand! Mrs. Cox’s team was featured on the homepage of Yahoo!, in a national PSA put out by the White House, and was even featured in a national ABC news story!