The Central High School RoboLancers’ Philly Robotics Expo (PRX) is an event for the purpose of raising STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) awareness. This event features FLL (First Lego League) and FTC (First Tech Challenge) scrimmages, as well as several workshops in the fields of programming, electronics, and mechanical systems.
The expo is free and open to all visitors. Elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools are invited to explore many different aspects of engineering and robotics. During the 2011 expo, Drexel University and the RoboLancers teamed up to educate visitors of all ages. Drexel students demonstrated the mechanism behind a variety of robots to visitors, including one that was programmed to play a piano keyboard.
The workshops at this event serve the purpose of teaching students at different levels about different fields in engineering. In each workshop, there is a novice, intermediate, and advanced level. For many of our visitors, PRX is their first hands-on experience of robotics and engineering. They all know the consumer side of engineering in their phones, cars, T.V.s etc., but now they have the opportunity to see what really goes on behind the scenes. Here is where they learn how companies start the design process, code their various software, and put together mechanical systems.
The FLL and FTC scrimmages serve to teach children how FIRST robotics competitions work. Granted it is slightly modified to run a little bit faster and have less rules to learn and follow in such a short amount of time, they are also using a robot build by a team that participated in the earlier FLL and FTC competitions. The basic principles are still the same–the children still have to learn hands on why the teams who built the robots they are using designed their robot a certain way. They also have to know what the best strategy is, considering their constraints, strengths, and weaknesses. In addition, participants must keep game rules in mind and how their penalties will be assessed. They must to ask questions and become all and all completely familiar with the game.
Companies also have the opportunity to participate in this event by showcasing their projects and new products. In addition, companies can observe what students are doing on FTC and FLL teams to give them a measure of what they can expect from students who, one day, could potentially help them
All individuals, school groups, community groups, and professionals interested in the field of robotics are invited and encouraged to this attend this free event. The response to the First Annual PRX was beyond the expectations of both Drexel University and the RoboLancers. With each passing year it grows even more, and with some imaginative thinking, it may one day become an event more enjoyable and significant than even the sports events loved by everyone.