About The Hammerheads
For the past 23 years, our team has been passionate about cultivating future STEAM leaders and innovators, this year being no different. This past year has been one of the most difficult for students across the globe, but despite the plethora of obstacles we’ve faced, we have remained resilient and versatile. Showcasing these qualities has allowed us to forge into a successful new year, building on our strong foundation and engaging more diverse crowds to promote FIRST and STEAM inclusivity.
In the past twenty years, our team has become the largest student-run organization in our district, consisting of 100+ students between our 3 local high schools. Though we transitioned back to in-person meetings this season, we’ve maintained the ability to easily shift learning and collaboration online, allowing a continuous flow of knowledge. In the off-season we host intra-team challenges including a hackathon, robot design and business plan challenges. Focusing intensely on providing equal opportunities to all students in all aspects of STEAM, our team structure promotes inclusivity for students to explore their interests in photography, writing and art along with engineering and business. Following the same path, we continue to stagger our engineering and business subgroup timings allowing students to actively participate in both.
Team 226 consistently works to bolster community engagement with student led initiatives, ranging from our STEAM kits initiative to foster STEAM interest and talent in youth facilities in impoverished areas around Metro Detroit, to our Careers in STEM YouTube series where we interview 226 Alumni, gaining insights to how FIRST has impacted them in high school and beyond.
Our initiatives, while varied and multifaceted, are connected by a common thread: engaging and elevating the knowledge of our community, as well as communicating FIRST principles to audiences of all forms. With our MakerSpace 4 All initiative, we arranged eight events at local centers and schools to captivate students with various developmental disabilities. Our team strives to provide STEAM access to all, regardless of any barriers to learning that one might have. Through several STEAM activities including our Van de Graaff generator and Snap Circuits, we were able to engage our students – stepping closer to our goal of achieving equal access to STEAM for all. Through our new Troy Discount Card fundraiser, we’ve sold discount cards at numerous youth events around our school and community, captivating younger generations to join FIRST teams by coordinating them with a TYR team and providing a tour of our woodshop.
Focusing on future generations, we are driven to emphasize and increase STEAM exposure for younger generations. Building on our foundation, we have grown our influence to hold 100+ events, reaching beyond past seasons and engaging new crowds. Seeing these students’ potential, we were compelled to bring STEAM inclusivity for all students to the forefront. Locally, Team 226 attended the Troy Daze, Oakland County Fair, and Detroit Red Wings STEM Day to advocate locally and expose people to FIRST. On the statewide level, we have introduced our robot and STEAM activities at the Michigan State Fair and Detroit Maker Faire, reaching an audience exceeding 125,000 people. Throughout these events, we were able to spread STEAM and introduce various emerging technologies like the Microsoft Hololens with the goal of inspiring and creating future STEAM leaders. Additionally, taking part in the Selfridge and Thunder over Michigan Air Shows, Troy Traffic Jam, Woodward Dream Cruise and numerous other events has allowed us to reach diverse crowds locally, statewide and beyond.
Instituted in 2017, Troy Youth Robotics is a city-wide feeder program established by our team to engage young children in STEAM and FIRST within Troy. Since its conception, TYR has grown from 17 to 61 teams. Through our annual TYR town halls, students and parents learn how to form and join FIRST teams while accessing our workshops and mentors. To further support these teams, we host 15 weekly Saturday drop-in sessions where teams can test their robots on practice fields and get help from 226 student mentors. Our team also runs on-and-off season competitions for FTC(Sharknado) and FLL(Sharkfest), and hosts the Troy FRC District Qualifier. During Sharkfest, we concurrently run the Troy Science Festival where sponsors and companies display their newest technologies, showing the younger generation how STEAM is implemented in the real-world. This season, our team supported FRC 302 in hosting the Michigan FTC State Championship, where many of our team members volunteered. With the support of our team, over 45 FTC and 16 FLL teams have advanced to the Michigan State Championships and 3 have made it to the FIRST World Championship in the past three seasons.
Troy School District
One of the strongest relationships we have cultivated during our team’s extensive 23-year history is with our school district. Every season, our host school graciously provides us not only with a space to meet and build our robot, but also to host events such as STEMtacular, National Computer Science Week and STEM Career Day which helped us to recruit potential team members while providing STEAM exposure. In turn, we attend school parades, club fairs, and pep rallies to bolster the capabilities of our school’s students through new programs and learning experiences. In an effort to not only impact members of our team but all Troy High students, we’ve developed the curriculum for the Emerging Engineering Technologies course at both high schools, allowing interested students to experience real-world applications while cultivating their skills beyond our team.
As a robotics team, we not only believe in preserving STEAM in our schools but our community as a whole through our environmental reform events. During our Adopt-a-Road clean up, we make it our responsibility to clean 2 mile-long stretches of road bi-annually, fulfilling our roles not only as students but also as active citizens. Similarly, we annually hold a Lake St. Clair Metropark clean-up, inviting TYR teams to our environmental efforts and this past season, we held a resource drive for communities affected by the Midland flood crisis and built over 1100+ face shields for FIRST’s PPE Challenge.
Girls in STEAM
One of our primary missions has always been to ensure that no one is discriminated against based on gender and to provide valuable experiences through STEAM and FIRST. With this goal in mind, our team participates annually in the Bloomfield and Grand Rapids Girl’s Competitions. In the past three years, members of our team have been awarded $1000 scholarships for their involvement in robotics and furthering female empowerment. Some of our female members have also been interviewed by ESPN, Detroit FOX Broadcasting, and even FIRST’s Robozone. Our team’s female members have also presented at the International Day of the Girl event and TPL Girls in STEAM Ted Talk, expressing the numerous opportunities provided by FIRST. Through this, we influenced many girls to take part in FIRST, serving as role models for younger girls by educating them about the importance of actively pursuing their interests beyond FIRST.
Additionally, to honor women in STEAM, we’ve created a video compiling the STEAM experiences of female members on our team, growing female membership on our team from under 10% to ⅓ of our members and leaders.
Equitable Access To STEAM
To provide equitable access to STEAM for all, we have organized many initiatives to reach the largest demographic possible including providing STEAM exposure to disability centers. This season, we showcased STEAM to special needs students at four middle schools, three high schools, and an Autism Center in Troy, engaging an audience that would have been otherwise unexposed. We’ve also donated STEAM kits to youth programs in Detroit, providing all the resources, guidance, and instruction for students through weekly virtual as well as in-person meetings.
As Hammerheads, we foster the importance of fighting for change, advocating year-round for equitable access to STEAM learning. We understand that systemic problems require a top-down approach, leading us to join other FiM teams to advocate for increased STEAM funding with our local representatives and senators such as Padma Kuppa, Gary Peters, and Mallory McMarrow at the National Advocacy Conference. Collaborating with 5 other FRC teams to engage Michigan US Senators and Representatives, we advocated for continued funding of the Every Student Succeeds Act.
Sponsors and Grants
All of our events and activities wouldn’t be possible without the support of our sponsors and partners. This season, we have received over $20,000 in grants from a variety of companies and organizations, including FCA Foundation, National Defense Industrial Association, and Troy Community Foundation. Our main sponsors, General Motors and Denso, provide us with valuable resources and monetary donations used to not only build our robot and support our team, but also support our community and its most underrepresented parts. We also strive to maintain a strong relationship with our partners through monthly newsletters, updates, and videos reflecting our progress throughout the year. We, Team 226, embrace the responsibilities that come with the great support we receive.
Team 226 promotes various ideals: empowerment, innovation, advocacy, and inclusion, making us a model FRC team. By elevating our mission and engaging communities to promote equity, we continue to spread STEAM around us and strengthen future leaders since individually, we are drops but together, we are an ocean.