Help Virginia become one of the first states to have a FIRST vehicle license plate

sparky_license_plateWe are developing a FIRST license plate for the Commonwealth of Virginia.  Our goal is to increase public awareness of STEM and FIRST. Pictured is a sample of the proposed license plate (subject to DMV approval).

We invite you to order your special license plate today! The cost is $10.00 ($20.00 if you have a personalized plate) and it will feature the FIRST logo.

We need 450 paid applications to make this a reality.  If you are interested, please complete your application right away as the bill goes to the General Assembly in January. 

To order your FIRST license plate

  1. Complete the application (pdf 1.6 MB)
  2. Include $10 cash or check (payable to “Friends of Sparky”)    
  3. The cost for credit card payments is $10.27 (write credit card info on application) 
  4. Mail application and payment to:
    Friends of Sparky
    P.O. Box 6495
    Glen Allen, VA  23058

We hope you’ll join us in this exciting opportunity!

FTC Gear Files

The attached files are 3D models of the following gears from the FTC Tetrix kit: 40, 80 & 120 tooth gear. They have been saved as a step or stp files that can be read from a wide variety of CAD packages or 3D printers. Use these files at your own risk: created by Solidworks converted by SPARKY team 384. The Solidworks 2014-2015 version of all the files can be found here:

Here they are. The .zip archive contains three files:
Gear 40 Tooth.stp
Gear 80 Tooth.stp
Gear 120 Tooth.stp

FRC Workshops 2014

Greetings Sparky!

FRC Workshops at VCU School of Engineering West Hall
Saturday, Nov 22, 7:45am – 3:30pm

Look over the FRC Workshop Descriptions 2014, you may find several that interest you, and you may see some familiar names!

Parents – We REALLY need help with transportation. You’re welcome to attend the workshops too if you like. Please volunteer to drive students by replying to this message. Thank you!
We will carpool from Tucker. Details to follow.

Complete the registration form to confirm your attendance. And please ask your parents to help with carpooling. Go Sparky!

RoboRIO Beta Testing

Hello all!

If you haven’t heard, Sparky has been Beta Testing the RoboRIO for the past two weeks, and will now be updating this blog once a week, possibly more often if an exciting discovery is made in between.

SO FAR, we have:

–Hooked it up and wired it (picture coming soon)

–Given it power (no magic smoke)

–Installed Eclipse and the plug-in, and deployed code

–Experimented with the web interface and through it, the CAN

The main thing for people to watch out for: 32-bit Eclipse and Java required.  Stay tuned!

Sparky on NBC 12 news!

Sparky on NBC12 News School Spotlight segment Feb 16 2014

Sparky on NBC12 News School Spotlight segment Feb 16 2014

Sparky began their Sunday morning by making an appearance on the NBC12 News School Spotlight segment. Robbie and Eric did a fantastic job!! Way to go Sparky!! This is Sparky’s second appearance on the news in the past month! If you missed Sparky this morning, the piece should be on the NBC 12 news website by tomorrow afternoon.

Thanks Robbie and Eric for getting up early on a Sunday morning to represent Sparky and all the good work the team is doing – you are making the world a better place!

NOTE: PLEASE – we need all team members to help us gather more used LEGOS to complete this project! If you all work together and ask friend, family and neighbors, we should have plenty! Remember – outreach is an entire team effort!! What sets the top teams apart is that 100% of the team participates in outreach events!! Kids around the world are being given opportunities they never would have had – all thanks to Sparky 384! Let’s make this happen for even more kids!

Sparky Update!

Over the last month of working on Aerial Assist, Team Sparky has made 4 prototype models as we move closer to the deadline and towards our final model.

Our Outreach group has progressed in the project to create FIRST licence plates, working in concert with Delegate John O’Bannon. These will promote FIRST awareness and support in Virginia. We have also created a new program, called LEGO Change Kids program in which used LEGOs were collected to create 8 Lil’ Sparks LEGO groups in Haiti.

Lil’ Sparks is a new program, created by our Sparky 384, as First is unable to expand in Haiti and Uganda. Because of this, Sparky created 8 Lil’ Sparks kits, filled with all the LEGOs, posters, and activities to create a team from just one kit. We even created a new challenge, titled Construction Craze, about teaching children about architectural knowledge. We do this in order to spark a lifelong interest in STEM in young children everywhere. A full report on this will be broadcast on Febuary 16, on NBC12. Legos from the collection that did not got to Haiti were used to create 14 new Jr. FLL teams in the Richmond area. We are mentoring 8 Jr. FLL teams and have created activities for their Disaster Blaster theme. Two events are being hosted for these Jr. FLL teams, one on March first and one on May fourth.

Schedule Update

Since all after school activities have been cancelled, Sparky WILL NOT BE MEETING today (Friday, Jan 25)

We will meet tomorrow, unless Henrico County cancels Saturday activities (watch for email/phone call)

A few exciting Outreach Updates to share from this past week:

  1. LEGO Drive – we have collected lots of LEGOs this week from FIRST LEGO League (FLL) teams and have more coming.(One team wasn’t ready to give up their LEGOs, but loves what Sparky is doing and sent $35 to buy base plates)
  2. Aerotek, one of our sponsors, held a “Jeans Day” last Friday and collected enough money to buy Sparky 6 bins of LEGOS!
  3. General Dynamics in Northern VA learned about Sparky’s LEGO drive and was so inspired that they are working out the details to help us out.  We will find out Monday the details.
  4. LEGOS for the children in Haiti – This week we are making small LEGO kits to send to 2 schools in Haiti.A group is leaving next  week that will deliver them for us (so we need to get them done this week!!)
  5. Tucker LEGO MY PIZZAWith the snow last Friday, the AE collection day will be Tuesday.



Entire team goes to Flexicell.
(For those taking SATs, we expect you will join us for the afternoon).
Meet at Tucker at 8:30 am
Leave Flexicell at 5:00 pm
If Saturday activities are cancelled – we will not meet.

Monday is a student holiday.
BUILD TEAM – Meet at Tucker at 3:30 to go to Flexicell
ALL OTHERS – We will meet at Tucker from 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
WE HAVE LOTS TO DO, so please try to come!

Mrs. Sylvester will take 5-6 students to Fox Elementary School (near the Science Museum) to work with their Junior FIRST LEGO League teams doing Sparky’s Senior Simulation – Aging Appreciation Activities.
We will stay after school and leave around 5pm – we’ll make a quick fast food stop before going to Fox Elementary. We will leave Fox at 7:00 pm and be back to Tucker around 7:20 pm
Students going can stay after school so we can get our things organized.
PLEASE wear your Sparky shirts!

LET ME KNOW IF YOU PLAN ON GOING – The team committed, and we need at least 5 students.

We realize everyone can’t stay everyday, but everyone is expected to participate!