FRC Fullmetal Falcons (Team 4557) – Retired

The Fullmetal Falcons are the original FIRST FRC team of Xavier High School. The Falcons' rookie season was 2013. This team officially retired after the 2019-2020 season. See below the history of this team.

Team Number


Team Name

Fullmetal Falcons

Team Sponsors

United Technologies/Lockheed Martin/Xavier High School

Impact on Team Members

Our students love to learn, in the last 5 years members self-taught Swift, EV3 Mindstorms and Scratch programming. This past summer a student learned Java and taught 6 members this fall. Now we use Java for our FRC robot, not LabVIEW. Alumni came back to help the student transition, one offering WPI resources, another with GitHub procedures. Two members learned Solidworks over last summer and then taught 5 members. This season the robot is designed in CAD alongside testing designs for our robot.

Impact on Community

FIRST launched us into community service at warp speed. FullMetal Falcons helped injured falcons by donating 495 items of supplies to a bird sanctuary. We helped collect 796 toys, 1,014 lbs. of food and $510 for children. We helped 46 boy scouts get their robotics badge with our Ask About the Badge Program and donated 212 man-hours to refurbish animal pens and a nature trail for Eagle Scouts projects. Also, we participated in the Relay for Life, where 30% of our team (and our robot!) walked.

Innovative Methods to Spread FIRST

Houston: we have communication! Team 4557 created Project Midnight Ride to continue sharing FIRST after the fair. This is an email list we use to send targeted emails with information requested about FRC, FTC, FLL, FLL Jr, camps and FIRST events. Since 2017 we have sent over 1000 emails. Families email us back for more information, attend our camps, and have come to BASH, FLL and FLL Jr. events. The list grows with every fair and as children age we send information about the next level of FIRST.

Role Model Characteristics

Alumni, mentors, and students are all part of the family. Mentors inspire and teach students. Seniors work with freshmen in our Mini-Me system, teaching team processes. Sustainability created by this inspires mentors to stay active even when their kids leave. Alumni attend kick-off and share their college experiences. Plus, we are influenced by other teams too: FRC Team 558’s rebuild of their robot, Brick 2.0, inspired our mentor to get a brick tattoo to help us remember to strive for more.

Starting FRC Teams

Of our 12 Xavierian sister schools: 1 has an FRC team, 4 have FTC teams, 3 have robotics clubs. At the annual Xavierian national conference our members talk about FIRST and FRC. Each year, we invite the 5 Xaverian MA schools to our FRC events. Our hope is to inspire FRC in every Xavierian school. For the past four years we’ve presented to over 10,000 people a year at the North Haven fair and this year, we presented to over 220,000 people at the Durham fair, many stopping by to ask about FRC.

Starting Other Teams

Last year we started FLL Team 32937, the SilverMetal Falcons, and it is going strong. This year Team 4557 started FTC Team 15688, the FullMetal Kestrels, at Xavier. We share our experience with Sacred Heart and a family considering starting FTC teams. We have a 5 year plan to hold an FLL Jr. Expo. Building off our initial team at a synagogue last year, we are starting 11 teams at libraries, a church and schools in 7 towns. Next year we plan to start 12 more so that we have 24 to attend our Expo.

Assist Other Teams

Our summer camps sparked an enthusiasm that led to an FLL team at Xavier. Three campers and FLL members joined our FRC team this year. We are assisting St Paul’s FLL team with line-following lessons and inviting them to scrimmages. We invited campers and people we met at fairs to Bash, they even drove our robot. Team 178 is helping us learn to run an FLL Jr Expo. We are starting and mentoring FLL Jr. teams so that we can inspire kids to join FLL teams and our summer camps, to Xavier and FRC.

Mentor Other Teams

In 2017 FRC 2168 and 4557 collaborated to start a summer camp in Groton. Team 2168 volunteered at our camp and had a blast while gaining experience which inspired us to start the Jumpstart Your Camp project (A flash drive filled with our lessons and program guides to start their own camp). First, we shared the flash drive with Team 2168, who used it last summer to run their first camp! We did a test launch at FIRST University this fall, presenting to other FRC teams on starting camps.

Corporate/University Sponsors

Our corporate sponsors include UTC, Sikorsky, Medtronic, HB Live, Inc and more! We accept in-kind donations like space from fair councils which allowed us to have interactive booths with all 4 levels of FIRST. St. Catherine’s Church gave a specific donation for Mercy Ships. We interact with our sponsors every chance we get. We toured Kamen’s facilities and applied project management tools we saw. We presented to Medtronic employees, with 5 other sponsored teams, including the VP for R&D.

Strength of Partnership

We “DO'' thank-you. We demoed our robot at UTC family day. We had a cardboard JT8 engine. This inspired UTC to invite us to tour their facilities. UTC then wrote an article for their intercompany newsletter about the model, family day and tour. In turn, our school had a full-page article in the alumni magazine about the trip. In 2015, the NHFC gave us a booth to spread the message of FIRST. We returned the favor by helping with their toy drives, collecting 785 toys, 1020 lbs. of food and $510.

Explain FIRST

FIRST is not just about the competitions, it is about preparing students for jobs that do not exist yet. FIRST has allowed many of our alumni to pursue jobs in STEM fields and have gone to prestigious schools like MIT, WPI, and RPI. FIRST offers students hands-on real-world experience. People around the world are being inspired to go into technology fields, showing the global community aspect of FIRST. It is not just one robot or one team but one big family, that constantly desires innovation.

Other Considerations

4557 went international! We partnered with Mercy Ships, a floating hospital that travels around Africa giving the people free medical care. While their parents serve, the children attend school. We fundraised to send them 5 EV3 kits last year, and this year we sent them a FLL Jr. kit. While we share with them our love of robotics, they share it with patients. We also sent a kit to a school in Guatemala, called Kairos, and one of our international students contacted his hometown in Nigeria.

Main Essay

Fifty years ago, Apollo 11 launched the first manned space mission to the moon. Since this event, an explosion of space discoveries reached way beyond the moon. Five years ago, a donated Lego Mindstorm EV3 kit fueled our outreach to blast off for new horizons. This exploration of STEM has led us to working with all levels of FIRST, collecting food for falcons, and even making new friends in Africa. Now on new planets, we can spread our enthusiasm for what we love; ROBOTS!

The moon landing was the dream of John F Kennedy. Similarly, our first captain dreamed of a summer camp at Xavier where robotics students can earn service hours like the athletic teams at their camps. The mission started in 2015 with a donated EV3 kit, loaned kits from FLL Team 1089 and investing camp proceeds for 4 kits. We ran a one-day camp for 5th to 8th graders, with a rotation of EV3, big-bot demonstration, take apart (dismantling computers), and Alice programming. The kids had a blast and in 2016, we started a week camp. Investing in 16 more kits we added to the camps with presentations on Women in STEM and history of robotics, switched Alice with Scratch programming, Rubix cube lessons, and Lego CAD. For the 2017 summer camps FRC Team 2168 joined us as volunteers to learn about running camps, investing in more EV3s, building Lego drones, and doing science experiments. By 2018 our investments paid off as we gained enough EV3 kits. We successfully petitioned the school to allow the team to use the proceeds from the camp to fund our build season and future ones too! We launched a new Winter Weekend Camp that added $1500 to our build season budget this year! Over the last 4 years we invested in 33 EV3s, 4 Lego drones, and reached 132 kids from 35 towns.

With our camp rocket built we could launch into other areas. Our first launch was working with a Cheshire teacher. We helped teach her the program, and she integrated the EV3s into her curriculum. Over the last two years we have volunteered at her grades 4-7 summer camp. This year we also integrated into St Catherine of Siena Church’s weeklong camp in West Simsbury. Members taught a big bot lesson to K-8 students. An alumni and current student shared their camp experience as they worked with NE FIRST at a camp in New Britain last summer.

Our rocket wasn’t the only one fueled: with their experience volunteering at our camp and loaned EV3s, the Aluminum Falcons ran their first summer camp last August. This encouraged us to share our camp experiences with other teams, and the Jumpstart Your Camp (JYC) was born. This includes our lesson plans from our assortment of activities over the years, and even step by step programing guides for EV3 and Scratch programs. Team 2168 was the first to use it and we are fueling the rocket to launch the JYC on Chief Delphi. A test launch was done in the fall at FIRST University, as team 4557 presented a JYC PowerPoint to other FRC teams.

The summer camps didn’t just fuel up the teams but the campers too. They wanted to do more with the EV3, so the FLL Team 32937 the Silver Metal Falcons was started at Xavier in 2017. This launched our exploration to the FLL planet once more. Learning from mentoring FLL Team 1089 S.T.R.I.P.E.S in Southington from 2012-2015 that with no administration support the team will fail, we invited parents to the meetings in the hopes they would continue it next year. Not all plans go as you hope but sometimes you find alternate fuel: advertising FLL at the 2018 summer camp recruited a camper’s dad! Team 32937 competed at FRC Team 178’s Expo last month. Our team is now planning a scrimmage with a Middletown FLL team this spring and one with 3 Watertown teams in the fall! Now the team is sustainable in the Xavier library with EV3s from our camps, multiple invested dads, sponsors and ecstatic kids.

In the FIRST galaxy, FLL is not the only planet, FLL Jr. and FTC are out there to explore as well! Team 4557 students, alumni, and mentors volunteered at events on the 4 FIRST planets and continues to expand the opportunities for kids on each level. This season Team 4557 began exploring FIRST Tech Challenge. When we had a multitude of ninth graders and a new technical mentor join our team this year, suddenly we had the fuel and acted fast: FTC team 15688, The FullMetal Kestrels, was built overnight. This test team was helped by FTC team 8152, Cybernetics in Portland. The FullMetal Falcons take-off into the program caught the eye of future teams. One is a family in Glastonbury that is committed to starting an all-girls team for 2020. The other is Sacred Heart in Hamden, where we have been talking about starting a FIRST team. We gave headmaster, Sister Sheila, a tour of our FTC and FRC space and a presentation on starting a team. This new frontier for Team 4557 has been expanding quicker than we could have imagined!

Moving to another planet, the 5-year plan for FLL Jr. is cruising on its flightpath. The plan started with the dream of a X-po (FLL Jr. Expo at Xavier). Our team would take advantage of our regional school to start teams in the 21 towns that our members come from. In 2017 we volunteered at FRC Team 178’s Expo. We continued to volunteer and in 2018 we started our first FLL Jr. team at a member’s synagogue. This season we bought a 12 team license and WeDos to loan to our new teams. Now we have teams in 7 towns at libraries, schools and a church. Next year we plan on buying a license for 24 teams so we can start more while keeping the ones we started sustainable. The school moved the X-po up, allowing us to run it next year - a year early!

Through EV3s, Team 4557 established the resources to aim for the stars. When the camps started to take off in 2015, so was our outreach with the boy scouts. This started with Eagle Scout projects at the North Haven FairGrounds, building fences for animal pens, and helping another member refurbish trails for a total of 220 plus man hours donated by the team. We also provide the robotics merit badge through our Ask About the Badge (AAB) program. We started with going to the Eagle Scout’s troops with the few EV3s we had and as we gained more EV3s, slowly the number of scouts grew. This season we had enough EV3s to run AAB at a Merit Badge College. In one day 23 scouts received their badge, nearly doubling the scouts in three years.

The Eagle Scout projects didn’t just launch AAB, but the North Haven Fair too. They were grateful for the work done on their grounds and offered us a booth at the fair. We had a drive-the-bot and walk-in programming station with our EV3s in 2015. The fall of 2016 we added our presentation on Women in STEM at the fair. In 2017 we made it more interactive with Scratch programming and Take Apart. This past fair we added our FIRST Power Up video game, and 3D printing. Over the last 4 fairs we have reached 40,000 plus people, constantly adding to the rocket-ride of the experience.

The shuttle may have landed in North Haven but spread to the local area. Since 2016 we have helped NE FIRST at 5 Energize CT events. This past fall we were given a booth at one of the largest fairs in New England, the Durham Fair! We invited FRC Teams 228, 558, and 3654 to help with long shifts. We shared FTC information, FLL EV3 programming and information, FLL Jr. models and WeDo 2.0 programming, on top of robotics clips and FIRST videos, with over 220,000 fairgoers! Plus, we were able to perfect Project Midnight Ride. This is a flier for families to fill out for an email list to receive information on FIRST’s levels and events. Since its implementation in the fall of 2017 at the North Haven Fair, we have sent over 1000 emails on specific FIRST programs they asked about.

The Falcons have even been able to land on the traveling asteroid of the Africa Mercy. This is Mercy Ships, an international charity’s floating hospital ship to give medical aid to the world's poorest. There is a school for volunteers’ kids on the ship. We raised money to send them 5 EV3 kits for the students to use for an after-school club. This year we are coordinating sending a FLL Jr. kit for the younger students as well.

This isn’t the only charity to be impacted by our travels. A Place Called Hope is a raptor sanctuary that helps injured birds of prey. Through our Falcons Helping Falcons project where we built bird perches for them to use in their own outreach and collected 495 items for their charity. They thanked us by bringing a falcon and a kestrel to our open house and robot demonstration.

With all the launches, we haven’t forgotten our home in the Middletown Milky Way. Over the last 5 years we have integrated into the school. We have done 18 Open Houses, 4 Eighth grade honors dinners, 5 Student Activity Recruitment Fairs, 4 Falcon Blasts (freshmen orientations). We are featured in the new headmasters first annual report to the board, 5 alumni magazines, 29 Instagram, 32 Twitter, and 57 Facebook posts or photos. The student community has also noticed our presence with 6 school paper articles, 5 podcasts, and 4 pep rallies. We have participated in every possible recruitment event at Xavier. The school awarded us a workshop on the main floor, across from the main office. On top of that the school has reworked their engineering program to three classes and added Java and HTML programming classes.

Team 4557 doesn’t just build up its programs to launch, but it builds up its members too. When our alumni blast off to college, they still orbit around. Of the 9 founding seniors 30% of them have come back as mentors for this season.

Lego EV3 Mindstorm was the catalyst of steady growth for the FullMetal Falcons. EV3s were truly our big bang that rocketed our reach from camps and fairs to Africa and every level of FIRST. The EV3 launched us aimed at the stars and we are not planning on coming down any time soon.

In bour 7 years our team participated in 21 open houses, 7 SAC Fairs, 4 8th grade honors dinners; appeared 7 times in the alumni magazine, 7 in the school paper, 5 school podcasts; and ran 8 camps. Our 3-peat football school now embraces us at pep-rallies with 45-57 chants. We inspired new STEM classes. We are the first Xavier activity to include girls & home-schoolers, welcoming exchange students from China and Nigeria. STEM bridges cultural & gender divides, our school is more inclusive for it.