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Introducing FIRST Diary of an Innovator Blog Series and Team 20789, Paranoid-Androids-On-Steroids

Learn about the FIRST LEGO League Diary of an Innovator teams here, and the FIRST Robotics Competition Diary of an Innovator teams here.  

This is the first set of blogs posts you’ll read from each team over our CENTERSTAGE season. In this first post, meet Team 20789, Paranoid-Androids-On-Steroids!


Paranoid-Androids-On-Steroids is a team from SAR High School, a Jewish day school, in Riverdale, NYC. We competed in three FIRST Tech Challenge seasons so far, with our rookie season being 2021. As the seasons go on, we continue to recruit aspiring engineers who are looking to build their STEM skills while inspiring others about this passion. 

This past season, we were focused on outreach events throughout our neighborhood. Our unforgettable googly eyed robot was a huge hit with the younger kids, enabling them to engage and ask meaningful questions. Working closely with local businesses, we gained sponsorships and held school-wide fundraisers to help our team purchase additional parts and materials for both our robot and outreach events. Hearing engineers from Bloomberg speak about robotics in the real world continued to fuel our excitement to build a STEM career. This summer we advocated for the CHIPS and ESSA Acts on Capitol Hill with the Student Agency for STEM Advocacy. 

With four passionate freshmen joining our team, and a new co-captain we are looking forward to a successful season! Our new members joined FIRST Tech Challenge because they were involved in FIRST LEGO League or other engineering projects in middle school. At our first meeting Oliver said, “I’m excited to build bigger robots that can do more complex tasks.” Isaac noted that he can’t wait to continue to grow through FIRST and get to mentor his old FIRST LEGO League team. On a similar note, those who stayed on our team have new goals, Matthew wants to volunteer at more FIRST events because “they are the highlight of my year” and Ezra is very excited to delve into odometry and AprilTags as a new challenge this season. 


This season’s theme, CENTERSTAGE, is a great opportunity for us to engage in both outreach events and robot design in cool and unique ways. Already this season, we visited a nearby synagogue with 25+ young kids to engage them in CENTERSTAGE through an experiment involving various materials for creating paper chains that depicted each stage of the food chain. In addition, we held an event at our local NYPL, where kids learned all about architecture in the real world and built their own geometric buildings. Our team spends a lot of time brainstorming our outreach events to ensure they are engaging, interesting and fun. Whenever possible, we integrate hands on STEM projects to maximize the engagement of all the people attending the program. Creating our team prop  around our school’s bee mascot is a creative way for our CAD subteam to bring their artistic talents to the table. 

Having spent the summer preparing and researching successful FIRST Tech Challenge robots and different teams’ builds, we plan to approach the new season in an innovative manner. Our robot’s intake and output will be separated to save time during the game, and we will be trying out new 3d printed materials for some elements. 

Continuing to collaborate with FIRST Tech Challenge teams internationally remains an integral focus of our team’s mission. We have already spoken with a few other FIRST Tech Challenge teams from across the country to understand some of their ideas. Through our conversations, we understand more about the game, and the tests that other teams have done. We enjoy sharing our ideas and experiences. Our many mentors continue to inspire us, not only in their technical fields but also through facilitating productive planning sessions for our new robot. 


This year, our team allocated specialized roles to each member in order to run more efficiently overall. With help from the FIRST mentor manual, we divided our team into subteams, with each member having a “robot-related” and business job on our team. Now, everyone has things to work on that they are specifically excited about. While our regular practices are just starting up, our team has been able to meet on zoom to discuss our plans and are already working on CAD and cardboard prototypes for our robot. 

We are very excited to be competing in two qualifiers in NYC on January 13th at Francis Lewis High School and January 28th at High School For Construction Trades, Engineering And Architecture! 

Today, in honor of October being Learning Disability Awareness Month we are kicking off our campaign #anyonecanstem. Our team is focused on making stem accessible so we are encouraging other teams to post short videos about how they approach STEM problems. For more details, follow us on Instagram and YouTube



Written by Team 20789, Paranoid-Androids-On-Steroids and FIRST Tech Challenge Staff

Posted 19th October by FIRST Tech Challenge

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