Participating in Red Bull Creation provides a great opportunity to enjoy some of our favorite and most enduring kind of learning – organic, informal, hands on, experiential, project based learning – in the company of creative, curious friends and co-Makers. This year, our team consists of an intergenerational crew of returning members from our FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) team, Team Duct Tape, a couple of FIRST alumni – Chris Willingham, a TDT alum and now FIRST mentor, and JR Weis, an alumni from FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) Lyman High School Robotics FRC Team B.A.D. in Orlando, Paul Markun, of Tampa Technik, a long time friend and FIRST mentor, and members of the local Young Makers group, the THINK & Make Club. We believe this great group, which we’re calling Team Awesome! , is a perfect example of how all ages can come together to create, and that everyone can have a part in the creative process.
The fact that we’re working with light, this year, makes the 2013 challenge particularly appealing, and instructive. Last year for our project, we received an Arduino mounted in a suitably Red Bullish logo and were just invited to “build something.” This year, the build kit included: a controller shield with multiple features including eight 4-pin screw terminals , a temperature sensor, accelerometer and more (all described quite nicely by Hackaday), and RGB LED strips, all in a really cool custom box complete with laser cut letters and diffusing paper (we got a lamp for later!) , designed by Curious Customs (how apropos of Curiosity Driven Learning!), and a project theme: “Create something awesome using interactive lighting.” Having a general goal – whether it’s a season challenge for a FIRST robotics team, a community building idea for a creative space, or a build contest theme – energizes and helps focus the creative process. Where last year, a good few days were spent trying to figure out what to build, just knowing “interactive lighting” is the common denominator has already inspired a short list of possible projects.
Competitive, game based learning like Red Bull Creation offers, also provides a fun way to exercise project management, and learn some useful electrical, programming, mechanical and other science based skills . Team members still talk about what they learned about rotational devices last year , and the physics of shooting marbles across a rotating surface! As our build progresses, between now and the May 5th qualifying entry deadline, will be sharing back lessons learned and skills exercised, and discoveries, ideas and insights gleaned from our Red Bull Creation playtime, as we work to create something awesome!