Team 4443: The Sock Monkeys! [guest post]

Hey guys! My name is Molly Bleything, I am 17, from Oskaloosa Iowa and I am on a robotics team. I don’t know how much all of you guys personally know about us or what we do, but you’re going to find out extremely quick! 😀 Lets start with top 5 most commonly asked questions:

1. Does your robot shoot lasers and fight? – No. Our team runs through the FTC. FTC stands for First Tech Challenge. The FTC is just a branch for the overall First program. There is also the FRC, FLL, and Jr. FLL!

Check out the website to get more information on us, and the other teams!

2. Are you guys only in robotics? – No! We are not all “nerds and geeks.” Many of us (including myself) are involved with many other things. A lot of us are in soccer, choir, band, art, cross country, orchestra, etc.

3. Are you guys the only team where you live? – No! There are a lot of no’s here, but that is a-okay! Our team – team 4443 – is the younger of the two. The other team we have is Team 3608 the Ninjaneers. They consist of freshman (9th graders) and younger! Team 3608 was the original team at our school.

4. Do you guys do cool stuff? – A lot of times, everyone has a different example. Yes, we do get to do cool stuff. We build a robot, go visit other engineering companies, meet up with other teams, and spread the word about the FTC program.

5. How many kids are on your team? – 10. There is one senior, four juniors, and 5 sophomores.

I encourage you to check out our website at It has a lot of information, updates, and pictures of the team. I also encourage you to follow us on Twitter at:

Now, back to robotics. Every year the FTC sends out a new challenge. This year the challenge is called Block Party. There are rules and regulations for you, your team and, most importantly, your robot. They call it the block party because well… it involves blocks. Your robot should be built and designed mainly to pick up cubed, yellow blocks. You are only allowed to pick up 3-4 blocks per scoop. The blocks are placed in opposite corners of the arena. After you get the blocks picked up, you and another driver steer the robot over to the ramp. The ramp sits in the center of the arena and has a bar across the top of it, and off the sides of it, it has a wooden crate with boxes put on it. You get x amount of points for certain things… anyways, the goal is to put the blocks in the pendulum. This is called Tel-op. Because of tel-op, there is autonomous. Autonomous is when the robot drives itself because the students programmed it to do so. The goal is to take a block, drop it in the box and then the robot will drive itself on the ramp. Some teams do not have autonomous at all… Anyways, after autonomous and tel-op comes the end game. The end game is the last 30 seconds of tel-op. In end game your robot should be able to raise a flag, hang itself. The robot can also keep scooping blocks into the pendulum if it so pleases. That is the Block Party this year! As a bonus we can do all of it! 😀

So now that you know everything there is about the block party, lets get blogging!

2 Responses to “Team 4443: The Sock Monkeys! [guest post]”

  1. Hi Molly,

    Your robotics block party sounds like challenging fun! It sounds like you’d have to be creative and innovative, paired with a dose of persistence.

    Seems like your team needs to be really good at communicating also so that all ideas are heard. Do you have any tips for this?

    Kind regards,
    Mrs. Watanabe

  2. Hey Mrs. Watanabe,
    Sorry for not replying! Tips for having good communication…
    Well, I think my first tip for this would be that no matter what age, it seems as if technology has become a big part of children/young adults life. Use that to your advantage. Try emailing, social networking, and group text messages- if you’re not together.
    But communicating as a group.. what my team, myself, and my coaches do is sit down in a different place for the last 15-20 minutes and write stuff down. No phones, no music, no robotics stuff going on. We sit down as a group and discuss plans, reflections, and how things are going to get done. I’m going to be a senior in high school this coming fall and my best advice is to make things visual. Kids like to see how things are going to work. A lot of times we write all over a blackboard. We have notebooks full of sketches, ideas, and projects. To keep a teen interested in the conversation, they need to be able feel like they are an important part in whats going on. That way, when the day is done that child will go home still wanting to continue the conversation. It makes things easier that way, because then I don’t have to do as much work. Students and team mates will start doing the communication on their own without the teacher, coach or administrator pushing them to do so. You can’t make two people like each other. But you can make two people work together. Sit in a circle, going one by one. Have them raise their hands. A lot of times, coach will ask a question us kids will discuss it in a group. The FTC program is ALL about working together as a team. Communicating is the number one way to do so.

    Hope I helped!

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