FIRST Robotics Competition Blog

Introducing FIRST Diary of an Innovator Team 1880!

Oct 25, 2023 Written by Team 1880, Warriors of East Harlem and FIRST Robotics Competition Staff





This season, follow along as we hear from 4 FIRST® LEGO® League, 4 FIRST® Tech Challenge, and 4 FIRST® Robotics Competition teams from around the world about their season experience and the culture of innovation their team has created.  

In this post, we meet Team 1880 Warriors of East Harlem from New York, USA!



Q: Can you give us a brief history of your team?

A: Our journey began in 2006, when a group of curious students came together with the vision of establishing a high school robotics team, they heard about FIRST® through a science teacher. East Harlem Tutorial Program initiated what now has evolved into a multi-site after-school program open to the community. East Harlem Tutorial Program (EHTP) was founded in 1958 as a children's reading group for students in the community to significantly increase the college graduation rate.


Q: What makes your team unique?

A: Our team is unique as we are a component of East Harlem Tutorial Program’s Out-of-School Time (OST) Program, an afterschool program for K-12 students. We reach out to the numerous public and charter schools around East Harlem, Upper Manhattan, and the Bronx; Team 1880 currently serves 40 low-income students from nine different high schools. It's worth noting that on average, 98% of our members attend college, while 2% enter the workforce, illustrating the positive impact of our program. Many of our members find joy in having a space where they can be creative and explore their interests. Another interesting fact is that 40% of our FIRST Robotics Competition team members began their journey in FIRST LEGO League and now mentor FIRST LEGO League teams or have siblings on a team, demonstrating our program's ability to inspire and engage students across all age levels.


Q: How do you incorporate new team members and teach them the values of your team?

A: Our team’s primary mission has always been to level the playing field and promote STEM education around East Harlem. East Harlem, also known as El Barrio or Spanish Harlem, is a historically marginalized community located in the borough of Manhattan, New York City, primarily composed of Black and Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC). Team 1880 has a mentorship program in place where experienced team members guide and support newcomers. This program helps foster a sense of belonging and aids new members in integrating seamlessly into our team, allowing new and experienced members to form connections, seek guidance, and learn from each other. Additionally, we provide new members with a "Values Handbook'' that outlines our team's core values, expectations, and code of conduct. We organize a "Welcome Week" for new members, immersing them in our team culture, values, and expectations where new members receive "Welcome Kits'' filled with team merchandise and personalized engineering journals to make them feel valued and appreciated. We also ensure that their contributions are recognized and celebrated within the team.



Q: How is your team preparing for the upcoming season?

A: Our initial thoughts this season were a mix of excitement and uncertainty. We have a bunch of members who are very artistic and ready for the challenge. It has been a while since our last competition, and we were unsure about how things would unfold. But, despite the nerves, we gave our best during the off-season in preparation. Our first attempt at building our robot and changing to a more modern driving system was commendable for what it was. Everyone on the team displayed a lot of passion for what they were doing, even as we were still learning. As for this season's theme, we envision a seamless blend of art and technology. We think it will involve interactive sculptures, some type of light installations, and other creative projects that will showcase the magic of STEM combined with the allure of the arts.


Q: This season is all about the role STEM plays in the arts. What are some ways your team ties creativity and art into your STEM activities?

A: Our ideas are born out of collaborative brainstorming sessions within the team. Our members aside from robotics have a vast range of interests and skills in other topics and fields. We encourage creativity and open discussions to explore innovative ways to integrate ourselves into our work. Art and STEM are at the forefront. As for inspiration, we draw from various street artists, and artistic murals from our neighborhoods that resonate with our vision for this season's theme.



Q: What are the biggest challenges you've faced so far?

A: One of the biggest challenges has been our limited access to professional engineers or manufacturing resources. Our team was drastically affected by the COVID-19 pandemic causing a three year hiatus until the 2023 season. We've faced the uncertainty that came with the loss of experience and gaps between competitions due to external factors. Last season, we anticipated challenges related to adapting to the evolving competition environment and ensuring that our project deadlines were met and aligned with the theme while maintaining a high standard of innovation and creativity. This year, we're eager to make the most of this season and continue our mission of combining the worlds of STEM and the arts.

Back to Blog

Add new comment