Take the Doolittle Challenge with the Galactic Squirrels and Help Panhandle Teams!

Team Duct Tape is helping FIRST Tech Challenge Team 14191 The Galactic Squirrels get word out about the Doolittle Institute Challenge to FIRST Teams in Florida!

Read on for their Call for Support and Please help!

A Message from the Galactic Squirrels

Team #14191, The Galactic Squirrels are teaming with the Doolittle Institute to Challenge First Teams in Florida to help rebuild First Lego League in the Florida Panhandle after Hurricane Michael.

The Challenge.

Each FIRST Team donates one item to rebuild a Panhandle FIRST LEGO League team AND Challenges one other team to do the same.

The Goal.

Schools receive all the resources they need so they can simply build a team, build a robot and compete in the 2019 FIRST LEGO League Season. We want enough resources for 28 teams in the Florida Panhandle in 2019 season, the same as we had in 2017. We aim to have pledges of support by April 12th and donations in place by May 30th so we can notify schools and coaches they have everything they need for the 2019 season before the summer vacation begins.

The Need for the Challenge.

A Panhandle school after Hurricane Michael

October 10th, 2018, Hurricane Michael hit the Panhandle of Florida causing catastrophic damage that exceeds $5 billion in property damage. The charitable giving for the relief effort has been described as anemic.

Every school in Bay County Florida took significant damage. Schools have been doubled up to make use of remaining intact structure, private schools have moved to churches and temporary facilities while rebuilding takes place. The FIRST robotics program FIRST Lego League (FLL) went from having two local competitions a season to none this year. It was just not possible to stage events when schools can barely function to meet the minimum needs of the students. Many students are displaced, as are many of Bay County’s teachers. The school board is having to make decisions on if they can even retain many teachers for the future. Finding resources for Robotics in 2019 will be a very difficult task for teachers, with local business equally damaged.

FIRST Tech Challenge had a new league (AeroCoast) for the Panhandle this year that included two rookie teams from Panama City that were able overcome hurricane related obstacles and compete in the league events. Team #14191, Galactic Squirrels, was one of these two teams. Competing, having a purpose for the team outside of the chaos of rebuilding, was extremely important to us all. We appreciate the efforts of the AeroCoast league to provide extra support and an extra few weeks of preparation time before our regional event so we could be competitive.

We know FLL teams that have lost their coaches as well as their robotics equipment, computers, tables, etc. The reality is that without some very real and immediate assistance, FLL may not return to Bay County Schools in 2019. The schools need to focus resources on rebuilding the school’s first. Recruiting new mentors and teachers to coach is a major challenge when school resources are not available to provide needed supplies. The Galactic Squirrels are posing a challenge to the Alumni of FIRST and other teams to bring back FLL to the Panhandle for the 2019-20 season.

We want to give every school the ability to field a team. We can do that if every FRC, FTC, and even FLL team contributes something to a Panhandle team to allow them to simply compete. It does not have to be just equipment and tables, it can be doing a video seminar or programming, providing mentoring, and being a resource or the overwhelmed teachers and coaches. If the burden of obtaining resources was removed from these teams, many could make a comeback in the upcoming season. Without assistance they are just another program fighting for extremely limited resources.

Without this immediate effort, it may take years for the once vibrant FIRST program in the Panhandle to recover. Students should not be made to wait when we ALL can help. The Galactic Squirrels believe that if we challenge every FLL, FTC, and FRC team in Florida to contribute one thing, we can crowdsource a solution to providing a 2019 season to the Florida Panhandle and establish a disaster recovery plan that FIRST can use for other communities in the future.

FIRST has made the first step and applied registration fees paid this year to next year’s fees for those teams that were able to register prior to the hurricane. This will still leave a number of expenses for veteran and new teams alike.

The clock is ticking for the 2019-20 season. We need to make a big start now and sign up teams and alumni with pledges of support.

Can we count on you?

Can we count on your  FIRST Alumni and can you help recruit FIRST Teams to the Challenge we are making?

Three Galactic Squirrels will be at the Orlando Regional this week to pose the challenge directly to the competing teams.

We would appreciate all the support you can provide us in our Challenge. Team #14191,

The Galactic Squirrels;

You have received the Challenge!


Team Duct Tape accepts the challenge, and now challenges other Tampa Bay area teams to step up as well.

We will be providing some donations of our own, and accepting others’ donations of Mindstorms kits, laptops, storage containers for LEGOs and related gear and supplies at AMRoC Fab Lab at  University Square Mall through the summer, which we’ll deliver to the Panhandle prior to the new season kick off in September. Teams participating in our March 30 Houston Championship readiness scrimmage are invited to bring donations then as well, so we can help the Galactic Squirrels meet their May deadline.

We helped back in the fall, volunteering with the new Aerocoast FIRST Tech Challenge League, but the area is still devastated, suffering, and needs the continued support of others to recover.

Here’s the full list of gear the Galactic Squirrels is trying to source for each of the 28 FIRST LEGO League teams in the Bay County School District:

1)      EV3 Kit

2)      EV3 Expansion Kit

3)      Registration fee

4)      2019 FLL Table kit

5)      Laptop to run EV3 software

6)     EV3 Software License

7)      4 Saw Horse Legs to support table

8)      Donations to fund making tables locally (Price to be determined shortly), this will be done as an Eagle Scout project and eliminates the need to transport tables to Panama City.

Fiscal donations for the Panhandle FIRST Community can be made via the Doolittle Institute here.

Team Duct Tape sticks together – and so does our Florida FIRST community.  Please help us help our friends in the Panhandle know that they’re remembered and cared for, and help the youth in this area keep learning and succeeding.

Will you accept the challenge? Please do!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: