About

At FalconCamps, middle and high school students students will learn about mechanical engineering and programming in the context of competitive robotics in an interactive and friendly environment. The camps culminate in a final project which will allow students to show off what they have learned.

Team 4099 is Poolesville High School’s FIRST Robotics team, based out of Poolesville, MD. Our school is consistently the top high school in Maryland and the top 100 in the country. We design, build, wire, and program robots to compete in the FIRST Robotics Competition. Team members design and build these robots from scratch (robots consist of upwards of 300 custom-designed and machined parts, as well as over 10,000 lines of code written over the course of a 2-month build season). Team 4099 is teaching the same content that members master over the course of this build season -- let our competition robots speak for themselves.

FalconCamps consist of five online sessions, each two hours long, with a 4:1 camper to counselor ratio. Campers will work together on some parts of their projects to foster teamwork and to provide a fun learning environment. Lessons will be taught by experienced members of our team with the comprehensive content knowledge (mentors, subteam leads, and veteran members).

Design

Beginner

This session covers the basics of Computer-Aided Design (CAD) and mechanical design thinking. We take a look at the thought process behind robot mechanisms and some complex robot CAD. This all leads up into the final project — creating your own full mechanism!

More Details

  • Monday: What is CAD? We go over the basics of mechanical design thinking and some examples in CAD, as well as real-world scenarios in which CAD has a role.
  • Tuesday: Getting comfy with CAD! You’ll learn about some of the basic tools and get some hands-on experience in making some basic models.
  • Wednesday: We look at more complex features of CAD and talk about more shortcuts in the design process!
  • Thursday: Start your projects! Groups are given a real-world problem and will come up with a solution using CAD and mechanical design skills they’ve learned over the week.
  • Friday: Groups will finish up their projects and show the great ideas they’ve come up with!

Intermediate

This course covers the optimal usage and mathematical analysis of FRC hardware. In addition, we take a deeper dive into the more complex features of Onshape and FRC-specific tips and tricks. The final project is to fully CAD a robot subsystem from scratch!

More Details

  • Monday: Introducing Mechanical Design Thinking! We go over some circuitry and physics basics, as well as the hardware used when we’re building a robot. We also get started on working with CAD and get familiar with some of the tools on there.
  • Tuesday: We look at some of the things you need to factor in when designing your robot.
  • Wednesday: Hands-on experience of designing different parts of a robot! We go over some more tools we use in CAD and look at some past robots from great teams.
  • Thursday and Friday: Groups will work on making a full mechanism that fits in with a past robot used in FRC competition!

Programming

Beginner

This course covers the basics of Java, writing robot control code, code organization practices, and testing and debugging code. Campers will be able to test their code on Team 4099’s 2020 competition robot and watch it run!

More Details

  • Monday: Introducing Java! We will go over the basics, such as getting a sentence to print to your screen and understanding the flow of code.
  • Tuesday: How does code work with robots? By the end of the day, you will get hands-on experience with coding a part of a robot to run.
  • Wednesday: Today we will get our subsystem to take feedback from a controller and learn how to put our code on GitHub.
  • Thursday: What makes our code run on the robot? Today is all about understanding the files that the robot runs and how we can use them. You will also be introduced to your final project!
  • Friday: You will finish your project and get to see your working subsystem.

Intermediate

This course covers PID tuning, closed loop control, motor characterization, basic trajectory following, integrating sensors into code, semi-autonomous robot control with sensors, and using NetworkTables.

More Details

  • Monday: Today you will learn the fundamentals of closed loop control and how we can use PID to achieve a working subsystem.
  • Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday: You will work in a small group, rotating between different projects each day to give every group time hands on time with the robot. You will learn how to use vision processing to turn towards a target, how to use sensors for advanced control, and how to create an autonomous mode that follows a path.
  • Friday: Today you will finish up your projects and get to see other teams’ solutions.
Register
Info
Thanks for your interest in Falconcamps! Unfortunately, we've finished our run of Falconcamps for the year. Check back in Spring 2021 for new opportunties! We hope to see you there!

Camps will be held every day in the session from 1-3 PM over a Zoom call. Counselors will also have office hours where campers can ask questions. More information about joining sessions will be sent 1 week before your selected session. The registration fee for one week is $100. If you refer a friend who signs up for our camps (indicated during the registration process), your price goes down to $90! In addition to the registration fee and sign up, the Online Communication and Media Consent form must be completed and can be found here. Please email this to falconcamps@team4099.com after registering.

Prerequisites

Before registering for a session, make sure you read the corresponding Prerequisite Information below. If your camper has equal resources and knowledge to what is described, then they meet the prerequisites. If you have questions about the prerequisites, please email falconcamps@team4099.com

General Prerequisites

  • Stable internet connection
  • Downloaded Zoom client available here
  • Slack application for desktop available here

Design Prerequisites

Beginner
  • A device that can run Onshape which you can test here
  • A real mouse as opposed to a trackpad (not required but highly reccomended)
Intermediate
  • Understand Beginner course topics:
    • Navigating Onshape
    • Using material options and Onshape tools
    • Creating a mechanism sketch in CAD

Programming Prerequisites

Beginner
  • Basic programming knowledge (review classes can be found on CodeCademy)
Intermediate
  • Understand Beginner course topics:
    • Java logic and syntax
    • Objects and classes
    • How to use Github
    • Robot subsystems

Design

Beginner

June 22 - June 26

July 20 - July 24

Intermediate

June 29 - July 3

July 27 - July 31

Beginner

July 6 - July 10

August 3 - August 7

Intermediate

July 13 - July 17

August 10 - August 14

Programming
FAQ

Q: Who are the camp instructors?

A: The camp instructors will consist of adult mentors as well as student members of Team 4099. All instructors have mastery over the content they are teaching.

Q. What happened to last year’s RoboCamps and how are FalconCamps different?

A: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we unfortunately cannot run RoboCamps this year due to social distancing and health risks. RoboCamps were focused on teaching robotics concepts to elementary and middle school students through VEX IQ robots in a hands-on classroom setting. FalconCamps instead focus on teaching engineering and programming concepts to middle and high school students in a distance learning environment. RoboCamps will be back next year though!

Q: What will a FalconCamps session look like?

A: Sessions will have 20 participants and 5 counselors. The session opens with an interactive lecture led by a mentor or counselor, where everybody is able to ask questions. We then break up into groups of 4 students and 1 counselor, where students ask questions, do interactive work designed to hone the skills taught in the lecture, and discuss in a small group.

Q: Who are FalconCamps meant for?

A: There are three main groups of people that FalconCamps were designed for:
  • Any middle and high school students who want to learn more about mechanical design or programming
  • Any middle or high school aged students who plan to join Team 4099 or any other FIRST Robotics Competition team, and want to have a head start on the content these teams need
  • Any high school students, or older mentors, on FIRST Robotics Competition teams that do not have significant programming mentorship, or don’t do much CAD, but want their team to get better in these areas.

Q: My child has no experience with robotics, CAD, or programming. Can they still participate?

A: Yes! Our camp is geared towards students of all ages and all experience levels. No previous CAD experience or programming experience is required for the beginner sessions. However, we do require some experience for the intermediate sessions. Check each session for more info.

Q: I am interested in attending FalconCamps, but cost is an issue.

A: We understand that during the current economic situation, the $100 cost may be difficult for some to pay. If cost is a barrier to you for registration, please email us and we can discuss options. Team 4099’s goal is to help children and teams learn, regardless of economic circumstances.

Q: How do refunds work?

A: Refunds differ based on how long in advance you are canceling:
  • If you are withdrawing 2 weeks in advance, you will get a full refund.
  • If you are withdrawing 1 week in advance, you will get $35 back.
  • If you are withdrawing less than 1 week in advance, we do not offer refunds.

Q: I am a mentor on an FRC team, but want to learn more about design/programming through these camps. Can I sign up?

A: Sure! We do not have a maximum age for the camps.

Q: What sets these camps apart from online resources and workshops put out by FIRST teams?

A: There’s a couple of things that set FalconCamps apart.

First, the learning environment is more structured, which works better for many students. Many students have a harder time learning from random videos found on YouTube and the occasional post on online forums than they do with one-on-one discussion. FalconCamps offers a more structured, personalized learning experience.

Secondly, Team 4099 has found that while there are plenty of online resources for advanced level learning for FRC concepts, there is a lot of content missing for students at the beginner and intermediate concepts who may, for example, have never used CAD software before.

Team 4099 greatly appreciates all of the content that is out there and is freely available for use by all teams (many of our team members learned from these resources). FalconCamps act as a supplement, rather than a replacement, for this content.