Game Changers 2021 Season Recap

Infinite Recharge at Home

Congratulations to Team Neutrino for their hard work during the 2021 season. The team successfully submitted Judge Awards and competed in the various skills challenges for Infinite Recharge at Home. This year team members adapted the 2020 robot for the at-home challenges, which was a great experience for new members to learn about the design process and for current members to iterate and improve current mechanisms. The team submitted documentation of the robot for the judged awards and competed in skills challenges that tested the abilities of their robot from autonomous path following to the accuracy and precision of the shooter. Team Neutrino ended up ranking 1st in our Skills Challenge group, winning the team a blue banner and internationally the team ranked 17th internationally among 1400+ teams. Most importantly, the team has continued to offer valuable engineering opportunities for the members throughout this season.

Innovation Challenge

Congratulations to everyone on the team who worked on our Innovation Challenge submission! For this unique 2021 remote challenge, team members designed, developed, and marketed a unique product to increase access to fitness among the Muslim community. The Opportunity Competitive Swimsuit, a unique innovation from Team Neutrino, will allow Muslim women around the globe to embrace both modesty and swimming performance for the first time. Team Neutrino is one of the 116 semi-finalists selected from the 1500+ teams who submitted, placing us in the top 7%! Unfortunately the team did not become one of the 20 finalists (top 1% of teams) to qualify for the Global Innovation awards in June. Team Neutrino is still working on the “Opportunity” to accomplish the original goal of the project, to give the Muslim community an increased access to swimming.

Game Design Challenge

In this unique 2021 remote challenge, team members took on the role of the Game Design Committee and designed and developed a unique FRC Game. Congratulations to everyone on the team who worked on our Game Design submission! We won the Game Design Challenge Design Award! We didn’t make it to the top 20 teams who qualified as finalists 

Chairman’s Award/Dean’s List

Congratulations to everyone who worked hard on the Chairman’s. We won our regional Chairman’s award! 

We’re proud to announce that Sam Kellen and Quinn Margrett qualified for Dean’s List and Quinn Margrett is a Dean’s List Finalist! Thanks to everyone for the season!


The Opportunity

Swimming is a low-impact sport enjoyed by millions annually with numerous health benefits that encourage many to pursue the sport. However, Muslim women who wear Hijabs are forced to relinquish their modesty if they want to compete. Over 890 million Muslim women around the globe (12% of the global population, or 1 in every 8 people) are denied competitive swimming’s fitness opportunities. Unfortunately, a covered swimsuit designed for competitive racing is not commercially available due to both technology deficits and policy limitations. After interviewing 6 prominent activists, swimmers, and sports journalists around the world, the same issues were universal: existing recreational Hijabi suits slowed Hijabi swimmers down, were incredibly expensive or of poor quality, and pieces of the suits frequently became detached. Without a standard for modest suits, FINA (the leading organization that regulates international swimming events) prevents Hijabi swimmers from participating. Section 4.1.1 of FINA’s regulations bans swimsuits from covering the neck, arms, and/or below the knee, each essential for ensuring modesty. For these reasons, Team 3928 is filling this void through a person-centered approach; Neutrino hopes to broaden Muslim women’s swimming opportunities by eliminating technical limitations of traditional Hijabi swimwear and subsequently shaping policy.

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Neutrino Mentoring FLL During COVID-19

FIRST Lego League this year has been a challenge for mentors, coaches, and team members alike. As we reach the conclusion of this crazy season and an even crazier year, we’d like to tell you about how we approached these challenges and how proud we are of everyone that helped work through them.

Two Ames Middle School FLL team members meeting with a Team Neutrino mentor virtually

As the season began, no one knew what to expect. At the time, we were fully remote for schooling, so FLL had to do the same. Discussions were crucial, and planning ideas were more at the forefront of our program, as no one knew when we would be able to actually build or work with the robot. As we moved into a more hybrid format, with half of the teams coming on one day and the other on the next, mentors and coaches continued to help online, as being with them wasn’t in the cards.

I can’t have ever imagined that I would mentor and connect with a team without ever seeing them in person. Mentoring online was certainly one of the biggest challenges for me personally, as there were limited camera angles of the robot field, and the students weren’t used to re-explaining all of what they were doing. As the hybrid format continued, the team got a lot more comfortable with it, and it seemed like a nearly normal season.

Of course, when the team had to go back to fully remote learning for school, the challenges came back in a wave. As it was at the end of the season, programs had to be perfected and tested, presentations rehearsed. As the project was already more suited to the online format, it didn’t seem to pose quite as many issues, but remotely programming and testing the robot was one of the largest hoops for the team to jump through. Using Chrome Remote Desktop Support, team members were able to control the laptop that was at the school in order to program and run the robot, which seems simple enough, until one realizes that Dagney (the lead coach for our FLL teams) would have to run back and forth and set up the robot each time. There were multiple times that I wished I could be there to help because trying to set up two fields at once seemed like one of the most oddly challenging tasks for one person to do.

The students did amazing things this year. As a mentor and a high school student, I feel like I was more ready to deal with situations like this, but the members had no idea what to expect or how to do this. Through internet issues and remote learning, the team truly embodied the Core Values of FLL.

-Alanna, FLL Potato Tornado mentor and FRC Team Neutrino member

FTC Team Photon

Team Neutrino sponsored and assisted a new FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) team this summer, Team Photon 18050. Team Photon encourages members to try out different areas of the team, whereas Neutrino recommends students gain in-depth knowledge by focusing on a few specific sub-teams. Prior to 2020, there were no FTC teams in Ames. Team Neutrino has talked about starting an FTC team for several years, and Neutrino mentor Dagney Paskach recognized the incoming freshman class would exceed Team Neutrino’s capacity. So Team Photon was started as a second option to involve Ames High students in FIRST. Team Neutrino provided funding for half of the initial registration of Team Photon, and included Team Photon members in Neutrino-led summer training camps to educate them in areas such as graphics, fundraising, and design. With that training, Team Photon has been working on finishing their robot drive base, designing team shirts, and starting a Robot Design Challenge outreach program at Fellows Elementary School.

Lastly, both teams enjoyed integrated small “buddy” groups during the summer that provided a chance to make friends and start a social partnership between the teams. Good luck to Team Photon (@FTC_TeamPhoton on Twitter and Instagram) in all their new opportunities and the 2020-2021 Ultimate Goal season!