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Team 589 Falkon Robotics
Falkon Robotics 01
Team 589 02
Outside Support 03
Social Media 04
Monte Vista 09
Elite Eagles 10
Girl Scouts 11
Christmas Parade 16
Snack Bar 17
Summer Games 18
Club Expo 23
Invention Challenge 24
PTSA & the Chamber 27
Salvation Army 33
Chili Cook-Off 34
Relay For Life 35
Table of Contents
“Our goal is to enable future engineers with the skills they
need to succeed and to inspire them by promoting
creativity, teamwork, intellect, and philanthropy.”
Team 589 Mission Statement
Falkon Robotics began in 2001 when Crescenta Valley High School
(CVHS) robotics teacher Dr. Gregory Neat looked at the FIRST Robotics
Competition (FRC) and thought, “Hey, this looks like a good opportunity
to get more kids involved in robotics.” Falkon Robotics was issued num-
ber 589 and attracted 13 students from Neat’s robotics and computer
science classes. The team accepted all students, and members paid no
entry fees. In their rookie year, they didn’t screen print special t-shirts,
so at the Southern California Regional Competition they spray painted
“CV” onto their white shirts (see picture below). This year, as an hom-
age to the original team, we all wore white spray-painted t-shirts on the
Thursday of the Long Beach Regional Competition.
Today each member of 589 has a different reason for joining the team.
Some have always loved building things, others were in the class and
wanted to be a part of the club as well, and some have no experience
but are interested in robotics. Each member contributes something
new and unique to the team: some work well on the computer, a few
want to handle business, and others are simply there for the nuts and
bolts. No matter who they are or what they do, every individual experi-
ences robotics in their own way and gains invaluable skills from it that
no classroom could ever teach them, all thanks to Team 589.
Over the years, Falkon Robotics has grown in every possible way. They
are an all-inclusive club with boys and girls, freshmen, sophomores,
juniors, and seniors, and students of all races and ethnicities. Falkon
Robotics is one of the largest and most involved clubs at CVHS.
Now, the Falkons are looking forward to giving back more to their com-
munity and supporters while continuing their history.
Top: 589 at Long Beach alliance selections in 2011.
Below: A group of Falkons in Long Beach for the 2010 Los Angeles
The original 2001 drive team at the Southern California
Outside Support The Falkons have recently grown exponentially in popularity and
outreach in their community and school. In turn, they have gained a
lot of assistance and support from non-robotics groups, including
CVHS Associated Student Body (ASB), CV Administration, the Valley
View Elementary PTA, and more. All of these groups have aided Team
589 in some way, from monetary support to helping spread the word
about FIRST. For instance, ASB has created and displayed huge post-
ers for all 3,000 CVHS students to see as they walk through the quad.
Moreover, Team 589 is part of a tight-knit community in which par-
ent involvement is huge. On Team 589, students’ parents quickly
become part of the extensive Falkon family. One parent mentor, Lyn
Martos-Repath, became universally known as “Mrs. Mom.” Mrs.
Martos helped start a sign-in sheet in order to track student volun-
teer hours. With her help, the Falkons discovered that by the end of
the 2012 build season, they had collec-
tively given nearly 6,000 hours of their
time to the team. She continues to
help coordinate events and fundrais-
ers, acting as the guiding adult in the
Falkons’ business ventures. In the end,
supervisor Dr. Neat dubbed her
“Hurricane Martos” because her ex-
treme work had transformed the
team’s activities and overall involve-
ment. Parents are also known to help
feed the team at Friday dinners by
helping prepare, cook, store, and serve
food to mentors and students.
students with ASB.
around CV campus.
support students at
Social Media Through their website at cvrobots.com, the
Falkons update meeting dates and times, as
well as adding reminders for team members. It
is where family, friends, and visitors of the
team can go to see old robots, find contact
information, see sponsors, and donate to the
team. The website is run and updated by the
webmaster, junior Jacob Poole, who codes the
website in its entirety.
On top of having a website, the Falkons also
created a Facebook page in 2012
(facebook.com/589falkons) where they post
photos and videos of the team. They also have
a blog on Tumblr (falkon589.tumblr.com) and
Twitter (twitter.com/589FalkonRobots). To
cleanly display their upcoming events, Team
589 uses a Google Calendar linked to the
In 2012, the Falkons discovered that members
were missing out on announcements and
accordingly introduced a new system:
subscriptions (commonly known among team
members as “40404”). The Falkons can send
out a Tweet via the Twitter service, and
anybody subscribed to the Falkon Twitter on
their phone receives a text for it. The new
system has helped create a more cohesive
team in which everybody has a way to keep up
-to-date. The system has been used frequently,
having sent out more than 185 updates since
its inception in 2012.
In this new day and age in which technology
means everything and nearly everyone has a
smartphone in their pocket, the Falkons have
found a new way to share their website with
others. On their t-shirts they have placed a QR
code, encouraging friends and strangers alike
to pull out their phones and scan the code.
From there, they are taken to the Falkon
website, at which point visitors can learn more
about FIRST, see old FRC games and robotics,
and donate to 589.
Above: Scan with a
smartphone to go to
the Falkons’ website.
Right: Text updates.
Far right: The Falkon
FIRST “I couldn’t be happier with the work Team 589 has done
to promote LEGO robotics in the district. That they have
two FLL teams participating in the LA Region
Championships is outstanding.”
Randy Kamiya, GUSD Teacher and STEM Educator
JFLL Having experienced the joy of coaching FLL, Team 589 opened up to Junior FIRST LEGO League (JFLL) in 2013. As part of her Girl Scout Gold
Award project (entitled “Robotics is Better with Girls”), senior Heather Abrams founded an all-girls JFLL team in the La Crescenta-Montrose area.
The team was comprised of six- to eight-year-old girls who were excited to do engi-
neering tasks and build mechanisms of their own. Heather was aided by three other
Falkons: juniors Jacob Poole and Jeffrey Szulc and senior Isabel Martos-Repath.
At the beginning of the season, the girls were introduced to engineering through chal-
lenges and tasks, often borrowed from “Wednesday Challenge” ideas used in the CVHS
robotics course. For instance, one task had the girls split into teams, each provided a
sheet of standard printer paper. From the balcony of their meeting place, the girls had
to transport the paper to a trash can on the ground below. One team spent half an
hour folding an elaborate paper airplane that was easily swayed by the wind whereas
the other team immediately crumpled their paper into a ball and spent their time prac-
ticing their aim. Of course, the crumpled ball won, but the real goal was in emphasizing
the old engineering adage to keep it simple.
In addition to tossing paper balls and building card houses, the girls had to build a
model based on the 2013 JFLL theme, “Nature’s Fury.” The requirements for the model
were that it needed to show the chosen natural disaster’s “before, during, and after”
stages as well as have a moving part to it. The girls quickly built up a detailed model
that included a complex gear-pulley piece representing a fire in action as the flames
spun about, connected to a small motor and battery.
Many of the JFLL students started with no idea about engineering or its principles, but
at the end of the season they were not only well-versed in putting together fanciful
contraptions but also were inspired to become future STEM leaders.
In the fall of 2011, Falkon Robotics took on a new chal-
lenge: FIRST LEGO League (FLL) and coached two teams.
At the Blockhead Qualifying Tournament, sophomore
coach Heather Abrams won the Youth Mentor Award,
awarded to outstanding high school or college mentors
(akin to FRC’s Woodie Flowers Award). Two weeks later,
Team 589 as a whole won the Youth Mentor Award at
the San Gabriel Qualifying Tournament.
In 2012, the Falkons expanded their FLL program, in-
creasing the number of teams from 2 to 14. That year,
the Falkons won the Youth Mentor Award thrice, twice at
Practice Tournaments and then again at a Qualifier.
This past FLL season, the Falkons evaluated their FLL
program and shifted from 14 FLL teams to 8 FLL teams and 5 STEM teams. At
Rosemont Middle School, supporting 5 (or more) FLL teams was too costly,
so Team 589 changed the program to an internal competition for the middle
schoolers using LEGO robots and old FLL fields. In 2013, the Falkons received
the Youth Mentor Award three times.
Because of the varied age groups of the FLL students that the Falkons men-
tor, 589 is able to bring robotics to kids in elementary school onward. They
have created a system in which students are able to start with CV Robotics as
early as 4th grade and stay with them until they graduate high school. Work-
ing with the Falkons allows kids to become familiarized with 589 team mem-
bers in addition to robot skills. The 589-based FLL teams learned about
Falkon Robotics and pledged to join in high school. Seven current Falkons
have made good on that promise this year, becoming FRC members; two of
them have even become FLL coaches as freshman.
With so many teams and different t-shirts, the Falkons needed a way to
distinguish their mentors from everybody else. The solution: a quote from
FRC’s favorite announcer, Mark Leon: “Do the math, save the world.” Around
FLL tournaments, mentors could be found wearing black and blue shirts
reading the famous slogan.
This coming fall, Team 589 plans to continue working with the schools they
currently have FLL teams in and expand the program to additional locations.
They hope to see an increase in STEM interest among all ages and higher
Falkon membership rates in the coming years.
Top: Girl Scout members & mentors spell out “FLL.”
Above: Team 589 met with FRC Teams 2429 and 696 to
help build field pieces for upcoming Blockhead FLL
Right: Falkon FLL coaches and students dancing together
to the “Cupid Shuffle” at an FLL competition.
Rosemont Middle School, home to almost all CV students’ seventh and eighth grade
years, first adopted FLL in 2012 with the help of Team 589, math teacher Celine Young,
and Rosemont counselor Karen Bomar. Having a robotics program at the middle school
was especially important to the Falkons because most of those Rosemont members
would be at CVHS in just one or two years. The club was introduced at the Rosemont
Clubs Assembly at the beginning of the 2012-2013 school year and drew over fifty stu-
dents at the first meeting. The students were organized into five teams, three made up
of seventh graders and the other two consisting of eighth graders.
As Murphy’s law states, “anything that can go wrong will go wrong,” something the
Rosemont robotics teams experienced firsthand. The Rosemont robotics club was rely-
ing on the school district to provide all the materials they would need. But when Au-
gust 28th came and the 2012 “Senior Solutions” challenge was released, Rosemont still
had no materials. The next week they had no materials. The same story repeated itself
for weeks. Keeping the kids’ interest became more and more difficult as the weeks
went by. The Falkons scrambled to focus the teams on their projects and the FLL core
values, each week sending more emails and phone calls to the district. Finally, with just
four weeks left until the competition, the materials arrived. The five teams immediate-
ly set to work, building robots at lightning-speed and programming with a fervor.
Come competition time, the Rosemont teams had caught up to the other teams and
ended up winning multiple awards, including the well-deserved Perseverance Award.
In 2013, the Rosemont Robotics Club broadened to become the Rosemont STEM Club
under senior Ben Campos’s leadership. FLL became too unsustainable and unmanagea-
ble to be used for the more than fifty interested Rosemont students. Team 589 estab-
lished a STEM group that divided the group into five groups that competed in an inter-
nal competition using LEGO Mindstorms robots and prior FLL game fields. The groups
were also given weekly “Tuesday Tasks” that often borrowed from the CVHS robotics
class and gave students opportunities to up their teams’ scores. Rosemont has been a successful feeder group, bringing more and more students
into CV’s robotics and computer science classes as well as Team 589. Falkon Robotics looks forward to continuing its efforts with Rosemont STEM.
Team Count: 5
Above: Members working on their Tuesday Task to
create the tallest spaghetti/marshmallow tower.
Below: Championship-qualifying team, Robo
In the summer of 2012, Monte Vista Elementary School teacher Mrs. Park reached out to junior Max Spero, looking for help starting an after-
school FLL program at her school. The Falkons eagerly responded, and soon two FLL teams were registered. The teams were divided into one
group of all boys and another of all girls. For the Monte Vista teams, learning the Core Values of FLL was an affair all its own. Many of the mem-
bers had done robotics through other programs before. Learning that the robot was only one-third of the way they would be judged came as a bit
of a shock to them. But with the advice and mentoring of the Falkons, they soon learned how to balance their priorities. In due time, both teams
succeeded in producing exceptional projects and developed a better understanding of the FLL core values.
In 2013, the Falkons were more than happy to continue volunteering with Monte Vista’s robotics program, again mentoring two FLL teams. At
their Hollywood Qualifying Tournament, both Monte Vista teams qualified for the Los Angeles FLL Championship. Additionally, the two Falkon
mentors, senior Max Spero and sophomore Justin Park, were selected to receive the Youth Mentor Award, much to their surprise and delight.
2013 marked an extremely successful year for Monte Vista’s robotics program, reigning in awards and FLL champions across the board.
In addition to participating in FLL, Monte Vista Elementary has been participating in the Glendale Unified School District (GUSD) LEGO Competi-
tion for the past few years. The program recycles FLL games from earlier years and runs much like FLL tournaments. The main purpose of the
competition is to keep students engaged in robotics beyond FLL season, as the competition takes place in the spring. In fact, the tournament is co-
run by Team 589 and FRC Team 696 Circuit Breakers. The Falkons coach Monte Vista’s teams after their FRC season ends and watch them com-
pete in April at Roosevelt Middle School.
Top: Mentors Justin
Park and Max Spero
with their Youth
Left: The 2012
Right: The 2013
Team Count: 2
Valley View Elementary School, less than a mile and a half away from CVHS
and home to many Falkons themselves, seemed to be the perfect place to
set up an FLL team. The school had great afterschool programs, but was
lacking STEM programs. In 2011, sophomore Heather Abrams met with
principal Dr. Carla Walker and agreed that the Falkons could use the school
and enroll Valley View students in FLL if the Falkons funded and coached it.
Ten eager boys joined the team, all new to FIRST. At their Qualifying Tour-
nament, they successfully nominated Heather for Youth Mentor Award.
In 2012, when Dr. Walker left Valley View and a new principal took over,
the school was unable to continue the robotics program. Not wanting to
lose the team from the year before, Heather took matters into her own
hands and decided to hold meetings in her own house for the Elite Eagles.
She even took 3 new members in place of the students that had promoted
to middle school. Throughout the season, Heather tried to instill the same
values she had seen on team 589: hard work, perseverance, and positivity.
At competitions, they became known for dancing before matches, applying
face paint, and dying their hair blue. The Elite Eagles embodied everything
that both FIRST and FLL try to instill in the next generation of engineers.
After each robot round, the boys would line up and high-five the drivers of
that round, regardless of whether they had won or not. The Elite Eagles
qualified for and competed in the Los Angeles FLL Championship Tourna-
ment that year with their mentors.
Come 2013, the Falkons wanted to return to the school. After a meeting
with a group of teachers and Valley View’s principal, three FLL teams were
established. The group of fourth through sixth graders had to apply to the
program with a short essay before they could be accepted to the program.
During the season, the Valley View teams were able to help Heather get the
Youth Mentor Award amid tough competition for other local high school FRC teams’ mentors. The Valley View teams continued to demonstrate
gracious professionalism and the ideal that having fun above all else was always the kids’ goal.
Team Count: 3
Above: The Elite Eagles practicing some of their programs
while 589 alumnus Santiago Sanchez supervises.
Below: Team “Matrix” spells out their name at a meeting.
Team Count: 2
Team Count: 3
In 2011, Falkon Robotics was just entering the
world of FLL. Sophomore member Isabel
Martos-Repath contacted a local Girl Scout
troop and offered to hold a robotics workshop
for the girls. Several team members
volunteered to help haul LEGO and robotics
kits to a nearby elementary school, where they
introduced the young girls to programming and
building LEGO robots. The girls were hooked.
This led to the creation of one of the Falkons’
first FLL teams. In their very first year, the
Falkons won the Youth Mentor Award as a
group for their outstanding mentoring.
After an amazing first year, the Falkons
returned to inspire even more young girls to be
the tomorrow’s innovators. In 2012, Falkon
Robotics mentored two Girl Scout FLL teams.
Working with a team made up of rookies is
quite a challenge–working with rookies who
didn’t know each other is an even bigger one.
After a lot of Girl Scout songs and robot
building, the teams emerged as shining
examples of the FIRST LEGO League Core
In 2013, the Falkons expanded their Girl Scout
FLL program to three teams, bringing in
colorful students from fourth grade all the way
through eighth grade. The youngest and oldest
team qualified for the Los Angeles FLL
Championship, and earned freshman mentor
Lucas Repath-Martos a Youth Mentor Award.
Girl Scout FLL holds a special place in the heart
of Falkon Robotics. Not only is the team
dedicated to bringing in more girls,
underrepresented in STEM fields, but two
Falkons are veterans of Girl Scout FLL teams
Top: The three teams and their Falkon coaches.
Above: Junior Isabel Martos-Repath working with the girls.
Right: Junior Collin Kawahara hanging out with his students at competition. Page content by Isabel Martos-Repath
FTC Since 2001, Falkon Robotics has been participating in the FIRST Robotics
Competition. In 2011, they took on FIRST Lego League by coaching two teams,
then upped the game by coaching fourteen teams the following year. Rather
than waiting another ten years to start with FIRST Tech Challenge, the Falkons
undertook FTC in 2012, the same time they were working with their many FLL
When the 2012 FTC game “Ring It Up!” was released on September 8, the
Falkon Business Team went to the FTC game Kick-off at Monrovia High School
and met with FTC Team 25, the Rock n’ Roll Robots. The Rock n’ Roll Robots
are a Girl Scout team based out of Los Angeles and are highly involved in the
FIRST world. As mentors of Girl Scout FLL teams themselves, Falkon Robotics
was excited to have a chance to work with a powerhouse FTC team that
promoted women in STEM. Team 589 proudly partnered with FTC Team 25 to
provide volunteers for their 2013 and 2014 FTC Qualifying Tournament that
Team 25 was hosting. In addition to providing volunteers, the Falkons agreed
to build a practice field for Team 25 as well as a field for the tournament.
The Falkons have provided a field for both practice and tournament use for
the 2012 “Ring It Up!” game and the 2013 “Block Party!” game. They also
provided Falkons for volunteering purposes at the Los Angeles FTC Qualifying
Tournaments. All in all, the Falkons put over 100 hours into building field
pieces and volunteering for FTC.
In the future, the Falkons hope that they can establish new FTC teams in their
area or mentor or help existing teams. With their neighbors at St. Francis High
School and La Cañada High School currently hosting FTC teams, the Falkons
are always looking for ways to increase their involvement with FIRST through
an increased commitment to the FTC program.
Top: Falkons volunteering at the 2013 Los Angeles Regional
Above: A “Ring It Up!” rack, which the Falkons built for FTC
Top: The 2013
Left: Team 589
paid homage to
the 2001 team
Right: 589 with
In 2001, Falkon Robotics was established. With
only thirteen members in total, the team was
the new kid on the block with no experience,
ready to be immersed in the FRC program. In
their rookie year, they were the back-up team
for Southern California FRC Regional Competi-
tion finals. When one of the teams in the semi-
finals had a robot meltdown and could not
continue competing, the young Falkons took
over, becoming Los Angeles Finalists in their
first year of FIRST.
Things have not always gone smoothly for the
Falkons, however. In 2005, disputes over strat-
egy made it impossible to design the robot
until the 5th week of the season. The team
essentially built the robot at the competition
and—needless to say—the robot did not per-
form well. But even from the hardest experi-
ences come positives: the students that
worked on that robot learned more than any of
the years preceding. Now at various companies
across the country, those former students re-
member their experience and ensure they
never repeat it again.
Although not all years yielded a winning robot,
there is no lack of strong and well-developed
robots. In 2011, for example, Falkon Robotics
produced a robot that played both parts of
“Logomotion.” The robot had both a mini-bot
as well as an arm to pick up and place tubes on
racks. That year, Team 589 was one of the top
eight teams in San Diego, making them an alli-
ance captain. Their robot (named “Julie”) made
it all the way to the semi-finals, but just barely
lost the chance to compete in the finals.
In 2012, under senior captain Molly Shelton,
Team 589 played a different strategy. Howev-
er, the strategy proved so successful that the
Falkons were chosen to be on the 2nd ranked
alliance in Los Angeles. What was their secret?
They played defense during the tele-operated
time period and then played the end game
better than most teams, pushing their alli-
ance’s scores way up in the final seconds of
Falkon Robotics is excited to continue growing
its involvement in FIRST and FRC.
Neighbors As the lower number would suggest, FRC Team 589 is a fairly old FIRST
teams, having been around since 2001. Crescenta Valley High School
was the first in the area to have an FRC team, making them pioneers.
Following their registration as an FRC team, their neighbors in the Cres-
centa-Cañada Valley joined FRC as well. Team 696 Clark Circuit Breakers
registered, followed in 2008 by FRC Team 2429 La Cañada Blockheads
and St. Francis High School’s FRC Team 4101 in 2012.
In 2009, Team 589 began the “Foothill Corridor Pre-Ship Scrimmage.”
On the Saturday prior to robot shipping, the teams came to the CVHS
auditorium with their robots, set up a mock field using chairs and up-
turned tables as the outer perimeter, and partied. The teams played
matches against each other, practicing their offense and defense, gen-
erally practicing driving. But more importantly, the Falkons served din-
ner and hosted a robotics party for teams 589, 696, and 2429. The next
year, La Cañada hosted the scrimmage, then Clark hosted, and by 2012
the duty had fallen back to Team 589. That same year, St. Francis High
School had become a rookie team. Falkon Robotics invited all three FRC
teams to the scrimmage, offering extra support to Team 4101. 589
loaned St. Francis two Jaguar Motor Controllers for their robot and
offered full use of their machine shop, should they need it. For the 2014
season, Team 589 hosted a scrimmage with Team 2429 along with a
dinner at the Falkons’ shop.
Aside from the fun of the annual scrimmage with one another, the
Crescenta-Cañada teams can count on each other for support and assis-
tance at any time. When the Falkons faced hard times within their
school, La Cañada High School sent signed posters of encouragement. In
return, the Falkons offer an “open house” style shop, meaning that
other teams can visit and use equipment whenever the Falkons are
home if teams (especially rookies) should need it.
The Falkons are blessed to be part of such a tight-knit community, and
continue striving to do all they can to give back to their neighbors.
Top: Team 589 and Team 2429 at CVHS for the 2014 dinner & scrimmage.
Above: The Falkon and Blockhead robots ready to scrimmage outside 589’s Tech Shop.
Community “Thanks again for a terrifically enlightening tour. My son,
once in the car, couldn’t stop raving and still wants to go
to YOUR school.”
Jamie Barton of Fem Defend, Soroptimist of the Verdugos
Every year since the late 1970’s, the Montrose Chamber of
Commerce has put on the Montrose Christmas Parade, held on the
first Saturday of December. In the past, Falkon Robotics has
participated in smaller parades put on by the Chamber, but 2012
was the first year that the Falkons were invited to march in the
Christmas Parade, right behind the Grand Marshall. The theme was
“Reaching For the Stars,” focused around the Mars landing,
science, and technology. As such, the parade coordinators wanted
the city’s youngest engineers to participate up front.
Team 589 agreed to be in the parade, but then realized they
would need to have something to showcase at the parade. They
assigned a group of students in the CV robotics class to design and
fabricate something for the parade using Google Sketch-up and a
low budget. The students accepted the challenge and presented an
idea: a robotic reindeer. They covered the Falkons’ 2002 FRC robot
in cardboard to resemble a reindeer shape, made antlers and eyes
using construction paper, and had a blinking red nose by attaching
the on/off blinker to the robot’s “face.” But what is a reindeer
without a sleigh-driver? Sophomore Jacob Poole-who was
restricted to a wheelchair at the time-became Rudolph’s driver
(pictured at the left). The Falkons tied Jacob’s wheelchair to the
robot and drove, with Jacob being towed behind it.
Alongside the high school Falkons came their FLL students of
elementary and middle school age. The kids had the chance to
march in the parade with their own mentors as well as bond with
the high school students while catching streams of tissue paper.
Following the Falkons, their big white truck, and reindeer-robot
were the Falkons’ neighbors, FRC Team 696 and FRC Team 2429.
For the 2013 Parade, the Falkons returned with their speedy 2013
robot, a big white truck, and lots of kids. Students walked in front
of the truck alongside the robot with Santa hats on their heads and
blue shirts on their backs. In the bed of the truck were a group of
FLL students from 589’s Girl Scout and Valley View FLL teams, holding up signs with their team numbers and waving to the crowds. Falkon
Robotics looks forward to participating in the Montrose Christmas Parade for many years to come.
for the parade.
Far right: Two
check out the
Snack Bar Falkon Robotics has a special connection to food: they host food drives, compete in the Chili Cook-Off, and partner with local restaurants for dine
-out fundraisers. So when a CVHS teacher put out a call asking for student volunteers to run the Crescenta Valley Little League Snack Bar, Team
589 jumped on the opportunity. During the summers of 2012 and 2013, the Falkons sent students to volunteer to run the snack bar for the league
over the course of three days.
But Team 589 does not do outreach events without also involving their robotics program. So, the team brought along Melman, their 2012 FRC
robot and Stephanie, the 2013 bot. When hungry or thirsty baseball players would run up the hill to grab a snack, they would find themselves in
the path of a robot. The Falkons
would drive their robot around with
food in its Frisbee basket to the kids
and talk to them about FIRST as
people came by to buy food. Often,
the kids were the right age for joining
an FLL team, and the Falkons would
encourage the children to join one of
the Falkon-mentored teams or try to
find a local team. The Falkons even
got to chat about STEM with the
Little League umpires and coaches.
All over the park, people could be
heard saying, “You have to get your
snack from that robot driving on the
The Falkons plan to run the summer
snack shop whenever the Little
League needs volunteers in the
In the middle of the summer of 2012, the Falkons had the opportunity to promote FIRST at the Annual Aerospace Summer Games, a get-together
for numerous Californian engineering companies to play games and network. Team 589 was needed to run an informational FIRST booth. Before
going down to Dockweiler Beach, the Falkons had their Business Captain call Jim Beck, the California FRC Regional Director, to ask for FIRST
promotional material (such as flyers, pamphlets, and posters). She was able to have Mr. Beck ship her a box of items, which the team put to use
for their FIRST booth.
The 10th Annual Aerospace Summer Games themselves included over 1,000 participants from companies such as Boeing, General Electric,
Goodrich, Honeywell, JPL, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, and SpaceX. Falkon Robotics made it possible for FRC teams,
especially the NASA-house teams, to network with real life engineers during the event. As the FIRST leads for the event, Team 589 set up a FIRST
Pavilion where engineering participants could come up and ask about the robotics program.
Throughout the day Falkon Robotics had the opportunity to share their passion and love for FIRST robotics with others while they competed with
or against other companies in various activities, like dodgeball and relay racing. The team had the chance to talk to companies about internship
programs and learn about aerospace technology. Not only were the students excited to see the hundreds of engineers, but the engineers were
also fascinated by the Falkons’
robotics program. An engineer from
Northrop Grumman remarked,
“How can 40 high school students
build a robot in just six weeks,
while at my company it takes us
years to build a rocket?” The day
was filled with enthusiasm and the
Falkons plan on attending this
event as participants and guests as
long as it is around.
Top: Spirit mentor Aimee
Yeghiayan and junior Ben
Campos set up the FIRST booth.
Left: Engineers play the games.
For Team 589, workshops are an important tool. They held a workshop
in the summer of 2011 that eventually sparked the desire to create an
FLL team. The workshop was run by Falkon Robotics and held for Junior-
level Girl Scouts to earn a robotics badge. But eight of the girls from the
workshop wanted more than just a badge, so sophomore Isabel Martos-
Repath founded Girl Scout FLL team 4952 (read more about Girl Scout
FLL on page 12).
In 2012, Falkon Robotics volunteered to mentor at another Girl Scout
LEGO robotics workshop run by “Pandemonium,” a Los Angeles-based
Girl Scout FLL team. The workshop was held for current members of FLL
as well as potential members to learn skills for making successful robots
and teams, rather than being held for a badge. Team 589 provided five
of its students to coach the young girls, helping them turn their robots
into more tangible machines.
Aside from hosting and teaching workshops, the Falkons also attend
educational workshops. During the summer, Tony Ayad (coach of pow-
erhouse Girl Scout FLL team “LOL Comets”) hosts a slew of workshops
in which he teaches coaches both simple and complex skills and tech-
niques. Juniors Heather Abrams and Isabel Martos-Repath attended the
“Introduction to Coaching” and the “Advanced Programming” work-
shops. Their willingness to take time from their own summer vacation
displayed their dedication to bettering their own teams’ knowledge and
In the coming years, Team 589 hopes to host more workshops for a
larger audience, of both girls and boys. Hopefully by doing this, they can
continue recruiting students onto their FLL teams.
Above: Girls test the light sensor that Team 589 students taught
them to program and implement.
Below: Falkon-coached FLL Team 10642 assembles a robot with
the aid of the Falkons.
The Crescenta Valley Sheriffs are a localized sector of the Los Angeles Police Department who can be found dealing with crime or capturing black
bears in the town of La Crescenta. But they also spend some of their time hosting holiday toy and food drives or working with local youth groups.
Over the summer, the station sought out help from high school volunteers at CVHS. Falkon Robotics and Prom Plus sent volunteers to redo the
wallpaper for the sheriff’s meeting room.
The job took place over the course of two long days, during which time the Falkons worked hard to put up new wallpaper for the men and
women in blue. At the end, the room looked newer and better, and the captain himself came in to thank the group for their efforts. A few weeks
later on the first of May, the supervisor of the wallpapering project, volunteer deputy Lisa Dutton, came to CVHS to present certificates to each of
the Falkons who had volunteered. The certificates were Certificates of Appreciation signed personally by captain David M. Silversparre.
Later that year in August, the Crescenta Valley Sheriffs hosted an event for National Night Out, a day that focuses on prevention of crime and
drug abuse. Team 589 came to host a booth at the event, which was being held in front of the La Crescenta Ralphs shopping center. The Falkons
spoke with the sheriffs and learned more about staying safe at home and in town, and in exchange the sheriffs learned about Team 589 and the
FIRST program, especially in La Crescenta. In 2013, the Falkons offered complimentary face painting to children while spreading FIRST’s message.
Above: Prior to putting up the new wallpaper, Team 589 grabbed
some pencils and immortalized themselves on the wall by writing
their team name, tracing their hands, and signing their own names.
These decorations still lie beneath the Sheriffs’ wallpaper.
Top: The room with finished wallpaper.
Below: Senior Heather Abrams paints a girl’s arm while
telling her about LEGO robotics programs.
As Endeavour was being transported to the California
Science Center, numerous members of 589 went to see
the Endeavour in person. Early one Friday morning, sev-
eral Falkons traveled to the Science Center to run a
booth about FIRST at the NASA Educator Week event.
People from every sector of NASA were in attendance.
The team even had the opportunity to meet and talk
with two of Curiosity’s mission controllers who had land-
ed a rover on Mars earlier that year. The Falkons spent
their day talking to elementary school students about FLL
and introducing them to the STEM foundation. They also
partnered with other teams—including FRC Team 702—
to run the FIRST informational booth, explaining the
meaning of the program and explaining what Team 589
This event helped the Falkons increase their knowledge
of real-world engineering positions. By meeting people
from NASA, JPL, and SpaceX, the students were able to
discuss their future plans and learn the best way to pur-
sue their goals. During lunch the team was able to inter-
act with other engineers and discovered more about
their professions. Afterwards, the team went on a tour
focused around the Endeavour space mission and NASA
Afterward the STEM fair, the team had the chance to see
Endeavour. They were able to see how extraordinary
spacecraft is, and were shocked to see how large Endeav-
our is in real life. The Falkons were also able to see the
burn marks on the side of the Endeavour where the jets
left exhaust was and saw other engines up close around the room.
This experience allowed the students to see the products of engineering in more
depth, and inspires them to pursue a career in science and technology. It helped
many see what they may create later in life.
Page content by Ben Campos, Jeffrey Szulc, and Aimee Yeghiayan
CVHS “Robotics has done a great job. You’re my rock stars!”
Dr. Michele Doll, former CVHS Principal
As a way for clubs to bring in their members, Crescenta Valley High
School holds a “Club Expo” week in which all one hundred and
some odd clubs set up a booth and a clipboard, trying to attract
new members. Here is where Falkon Robotics brings in many oth-
erwise unlikely members. During the event, the Falkons drive one
of their robots around on the Rally Platform, a center for important
activities at CVHS. Many students, intrigued by the robot, then
come to the booth and sign-up, making up many current Falkons.
This year, the Falkons pulled out a dusty old robot from 2002 for
Club Expo. But as soon as she was plugged in again, she was run-
ning in no time. The 2002 robot is well known for being the strong-
est bot ever built by 589, once pulling a pick-up truck by itself.
However, none of the CV students could have known that just by
watching it drive around. So, Falkon Robotics proposed a challenge
to the student body: play tug-o-war with the 2002 robot. If the
student won, they could decide whether or not to sign up, but if
they lost they had to sign up for robotics. Hundreds of students
took the challenge (and most of them lost to the robot). Conse-
quently, the team has experienced a huge influx in membership
since Club Expo, which has had a positive impact on Team 589.
Another way that Falkon Robotics reached out to the school’s stu-
dents was by having a “package” on CVTV. CVTV is the school’s
morning newscast-style bulletin, available on every television set in
each homeroom. During this time, the anchors read off announce-
ments and talk about important school-related events. Packages
are infomercial-like segments of the program that usually last one
to two minutes and often focus on a sports team or school club. In
February, right in the middle of the FRC season, a package aired
about Falkon Robotics, filled with action-footage of the robots, the
students, and their mentors. The package helped increase aware-
ness of the club and the class. For days and weeks after the pack-
age aired, students told robotics members, “I saw you on CVTV”
and “I saw robotics on TV and it looks awesome!” Robotics hopes
to have more packages for this year and in the coming years.
Top: A student playing tug-o-war with a robot.
Left: A freshman signing up for robotics.
Above: Members trying to attract students to the club.
With FRC being a largely winter sport, advisor and robotics teacher Dr. Neat wanted to have something that would keep his students’ minds ac-
tive and working year-round. He found the perfect solution: the JPL Invention Challenge. As the name suggests, the game is put on by the Jet Pro-
pulsion Laboratory, and challenges JPL employees as well as Californian middle and high schools to build a device for competition, much like the
FIRST program. The 2013 challenge tasked students with a pyramid in which students needed to get a golf ball… accurately and with only one try.
Each school can have up to three teams entered in the competition, but Dr. Neat only allows CV to enter multiple devices if they are clearly differ-
ing in design and style. In the end, they registered three teams: a slider, a kicker, and an arm. “Chtulu” the slider (pictures above) proved to be
extremely repeatable and easy to set up, leading them to continue on to the Los Angeles JPL Invention Challenge Championship.
In the past, challenges have asked students to fling unbroken streams of toilet paper, launch a football into a trashcan, or build a cardboard
bridge that can support the most bricks beneath it. Many of these old devices have been kept around to use for outreach activities or demonstra-
tions. “Heather,” a 2012 toilet paper launcher (pictured bottom left) is often used when visiting local elementary and middle schools or during
school wide events at CVHS, including Back-to-School Night and Freshman Orientation Night. Whether it be golf balls or bricks, one thing is cer-
tain: CV will be a strong competitor in the JPL Invention Challenge for years to come.
Top: The 2013 golf
ball delivering slider,
Left: Junior Rhys Teff
Right: The CV
robotics team with
the Rosemont and
teams at the 2013
What’s the highlight of going to an FIRST
Robotics Competition? The swag, of course:
the buttons, the capes, the headbands, and the
rest. Falkon Robotics is famed for their unique
giveaways. Every year, the engineering class at
CVHS is issued the challenge of designing
something to hand out at competitions. The
giveaway must be student designed and
manufactured, and must also cost less than
fifty cents to make.
After brainstorming and pitching
their ideas, the class moves on to
modeling the item in Google
Sketchup. The students research
the cost of the materials needed
and make revisions if necessary.
Every Friday, the designers make a
presentation to their classmates on
the progress made that week. Once
the design is finalized and the
materials are ordered, the class goes into
production mode. Everyone follows a set
manufacturing process created by the
designers, with groups of students working on
one part of the giveaway, in an assembly-line
style. The class can churn out hundreds of
giveaways in a single week.
This year’s giveaway is a spinoff of the “ball-in-
cup” game, made to resemble a low goal from
this year’s game. Past swag from Falkon
Robotics has included the Yakop Doll (2009),
the Ball-Trident Game (2010), the Hot Bot
(2011), and the Molly Dolly (2012).
The 2012 Molly Dolly became especially
popular and was manufactured on a larger
scale. The larger ones were sold on etsy.com as
a Falkon fundraiser for $15.89 each. Some of
the larger ones were also produced and
decorated specifically to a person’s tastes, then
given to the mentors as thank-you gifts during
the end-of-year robotics banquet (the photo
above shows the Molly Dolly created by Molly
Shelton herself for robotics advisor, Dr. Neat).
One team member—junior Max Burton—liked
the Molly Dolly enough to create a mascot
costume that looked just like the Molly Dolly
and has become 589’s official mascot.
Above: Students bringing in
metal to produce the
Left: The 2011 Hot Bot.
Right: The Ball-Trident
Game of 2010.
Page content by Isabel Martos-Repath
CVHS has had an Academy of Science & Medicine (“The Academy”) for years, who has been a consistent partner to Falkon Robotics. The Acade-
my is a club made up of many students that wish to pursue medical or biological-related careers. However, the club is open to all students, includ-
ing those with an interest in engineering or physics. The Academy, like many clubs on campus, has certain requirements for members to retain
membership. Part of those requirements are to be enrolled in a biotechnology class, robotics, or computer science. Many members of The Acade-
my come to the robotics or computer science classes to learn while simultaneously fulfilling requirements.
Team 589 wanted to increase its involvement with and effect on The Academy, so in 2012 they joined The Academy’s annual summer picnic. The
team brought their “Rebound Rumble” robot to the picnic and gave a presentation and robot demonstration to Academy members. The students
that were not involved with robotics had the opportunity to see the robotics program, increasing exposure of robotics to CV students.
Just after the Academy picnic, Falkon Robotics received a generous donation for their team’s use. Among the items they received were a drill bits,
a drill press, a jig saw and a welder. The donations helped the Falkons progress through their FRC build season, making it possible for them to
work on many different engineering projects and to finish their 2013 robot, Stephanie.
Top: Senior Easun Arunchalam
speaking to the crowd of Academy
Left: Part of the donation made to
the team after the picnic.
Bottom: Easun presenting a robot
to fellow classmates.
Photo courtesy of Tanner Bloks
Aside from increasing their presence with
CVHS students, Team 589 has also strength-
ened its ties to the parents and faculty of Cres-
centa Valley High School. In 2012, the Parent-
Teacher-Student Association of CV held a Club
Recognition Day, inviting thirty of the school’s
top clubs to set up a table and show off their
activities for the year. Robotics had a booth
right up front with their photo boards and
fliers laid out. In the middle of the lunch peri-
od, the PTSA president began an awards cere-
mony, presenting an “Honorary Service Award”
to three elite CV clubs for their outstanding
service to their school and community. Falkon
Robotics received the award for their work
with FLL at various schools (read more on pag-
es 07-12). Each student who helped in the FLL
effort was called up on stage and given a cer-
tificate recognizing their hard work.
Additionally, Falkon Robotics got together a
group of current students and alumni to nomi-
nate Dr. Neat, the team’s main advisor, as the
district’s top educator. Together, with more
nominations and of higher quality than the
other nominees, Dr. Neat was selected by the
Chamber of Commerce as Glendale’s Educator
of the Year, much to the delight of the Falkons.
The award only reaffirmed the team’s love of
In making impressions with school dignitaries,
the Falkons also joined principal Dr. Doll at
Rosemont Middle School while she gave her
annual speech to the incoming freshmen.
Team 589 split the presentation with the prin-
cipal and the school’s JROTC program. The
team showed off their toilet paper launching
device (read more about toilet paper on page
26), FLL robots, and their 2012 robot
“Melman” to the eighth grade students. They
even challenged the middle school kids to a
competition: throw the toilet paper stream a
farther distance than the JPL device. This al-
lowed the students to interact with the Falkons
while still understanding what and why the
Falkons do what they do. But perhaps equally
as important, the school principal saw the
Falkons talk and use their devices, making a
great positive impression and increasing
awareness of the club among the CV faculty.
Team 589 also expects to see an increase in
number of students in both the class and club.
Top: Falkon Robotics with the two other award-winning CVHS clubs.
Above: Advisor Dr. Neat, business mentor Mrs. Martos, and the PTSA President pre-
senting the Honorary Service Award to Team 589.
PTSA & the Chamber
Partners “All of this costs money and with programs being cut and
education funding for special projects low we must
depend on support from our community and
Team 589 website
Mentors: the backbone of any and every team. Without them, Team 589 would be nowhere. In 2001, Dr. Neat and his colleague (Mr. Saw, a CV
math teacher) were the only adults running the robotics club. Over the years, the team gained more and more mentors and helpers, and the
team expanded and improved accordingly. While Dr. Neat remains the main coach and advisor of the team, the many other mentors have proved
that the team would really be lost without them.
In addition to having adult mentors, the team also has many “Mentors-In-Training.” These “MITs” are team members that have graduated, but
return to give their advice and guidance to the current members. Their experience being members of the team itself makes their input extremely
relatable and important to helping Falkon Robotics learn from its past and improve for the future.
Dr. Greg Neat—Dr. Neat spent 15 years work-
ing with JPL, and has now been teaching at CVHS for over 15 years. He is the head coach and advisor of Team 589. 2014 marks his 14th season of FIRST, and he has no plans to leave FIRST any time soon.
Robert Ferraro—Dr. Ferraro is an employee at
JPL and has worked with the mechanical and CAD groups, as well as providing assistance with the physics of the robot for the past 9 years.
Brian Gordon—A 9-year mentor, Mr. Gordon
works with both the electronics and field equipment sub-groups, sharing his experience from his job with JPL.
Bruce Wilton—Mr. Wilton has been has been
involved with judging FIRST in Los Angeles and Atlanta/St. Louis for years. He has mentored the Falkons’ drive system sub-group for the past 7 seasons.
Mark Abrams—Mr. Abrams has worked with
FIRST for over 12 years as a judge in Los Ange-les, San Diego, and Atlanta/St. Louis. For the past 4 years Mr. Abrams has worked with the business/Chairman’s and attachment groups.
Edeena Gordon—Wife of Mr. Brian Gordon,
Mrs. Gordon has spent her past 4 years with 589 guiding the field equipment group, which is a predominantly rookie group.
Steve Gustafson—Mr. Gustafson, who re-
turned for his 3rd year with the Falkons this year, has mentored the programming group.
Lyn Repath-Martos—Dubbed “Hurricane Mar-
tos” by Dr. Neat, this JPL employee made her presence well known in her first year as a men-tor to the business team. 2013 marks her 3rd year with the Falkons.
Rob Miller—Mr. Miller is a rookie mentor this
year for 589 and has helped with fabrication
and general team necessities.
Caitlin Callaghan—Caitlin, now a college stu-
dent and a CV alumna, has been a mentor of the CAD group for the past 3 years.
Santiago Sanchez—“Santi” is a CV alumnus and
mentors a wide range of groups, and has been helping 589 for 3 years to date.
Aimee Beck—Aimee, now attending college, is
a CV alumna and mentors the business group and heads the spirit department. This year is her 2nd year mentoring Team 589.
Sarah Ferraro – Sarah graduated from CVHS in
the class of 2008, going on to attend Harvey
Mudd College. She graduated at the top of her
class from Harvey Mudd in 2012. She now
works for Microsoft.
Thomas Peev – Thomas graduated from CVHS
in 2010 and is now at UC Merced studying
engineering, but was a fabrication mentor to
Falkon Robotics before Merced. Outside of
school, he interned at Eaton Aerospace.
Sam Sampson – Sam was the 2010 Falkon
Robotics team captain. He now attends college
in Santa Monica, spending his free time visiting
Team 589. He has also worked as an intern at
Stephen Beck – Stephen graduated from CVHS
with the class of 2011. He has gone on to the
United States Air Force and now works as a
Radio Frequency Engineer.
Nathaniel Homan – Nathaniel graduated from
CVHS in 2011 and now studies at Cal Poly San
David Owens – David graduated with the class
of 2011, having worked with many groups of
589. He is now studying at Cal Poly Pomona.
Will Richards – Will graduated from CVHS in
2011 and is now working as an electrician in
the Los Angeles area.
Santiago Sanchez – Santiago “Santi” graduated
from CVHS in the class of 2011. He is now
attends college in Pasadena and is a mentor to
Julian Shur – Julian was the team captain of
Falkon Robotics in 2011. He now attends the
University of California Irvine, studying
Andre Aboulian –
Andre was one of Team 589’s main program-
mers in 2012, going on to study computer
science at the Massachusetts Institute of
Molly Shelton – Molly (pictured at the top)
was the 2012 team captain. After graduating,
she moved to Pennsylvania to attend Allegheny
Aimee Beck – Aimee graduated with the class
of 2012. Now attending Glendale College,
Aimee returns in January and February to be
the Falkons’ official spirit mentor. She also
married alumnus Stephen Beck in 2014.
Bryan Ghoslin — Bryan, the 2013 Arshak
Award winner, now studies engineering at UC
Riverside as a freshman. He continues to
maintain contact with Team 589 and supports
the Drive Team.
Over the past 13 years, Team 589 has turned out thousands of successful engineers. Listed below are just a few of many great and noteworthy
In the summers of 2011, Falkon Robotics visited the campus of two corporations, DreamWorks Animation and Eaton with their 2011 robot,
“Julie.” At these events, members of the team demonstrated their robot and explained their community outreach and FIRST-related endeavors.
Soon after the visits, DreamWorks Animation became Team 589’s sponsor and Eaton sponsored the Los Angeles Regional.
During the summer of 2012, Team 589 took another trip to Eaton, bringing along “Melman,” their 2012 robot. The team presented their robot to
a group of engineers and workers, and in return were taught about engineering by the workers. During a demonstration however, the robot
broke down. Eager engineers at Eaton immediately helped the Falkons identify the problem. Later that year, the team again worked with Eaton at
the annual Eaton Day of Service, during which we volunteered at the Union Rescue Mission.
In 2012, members of 589 toured the facilities and learned about techniques used in the creation of animated movies and videos by DreamWorks
Animation. They spoke directly to a group of animators, engineers, and other staff, who shared their experiences of working with DreamWorks
This year, Falkon Robotics has gained two major sponsors: WET and Montrose-La Crescenta Kiwanis Club. WET, the fountain company responsi-
ble for the Bellagio and Americana fountains, graciously invited Team 589 to present to its CEO, Mark Fuller (pictured at top). Afterwards, the
Falkons were given a mind-blowing tour of the WET facilities. Montrose-La Crescenta Kiwanis Club, a local charitable group, is also a major spon-
sors of Falkon Robotics after making a donation during the 2014 build season. Team 589 is grateful for all its sponsors and support.
Top: Falkons at WET.
Left: DreamWorks employees
Middle: Falkons talking to
DreamWorks Animation CEO
Jeffrey Katzenberg. Page content by Jeffrey Szulc
Charity “The robotics and Girl Scout food drive was a huge help.”
Rick White, Salvation Army in response to food donations from Falkon Robotics
For a long time, the Falkons have been build-
ing robots. In 2012, they decided to attack a
major problem in their city: hunger. They did
some research and discovered that one in eve-
ry four children in L.A. county goes to bed each
night without enough to eat. The team con-
tacted Rick White, Director of Social Services
and Volunteer Coordinator for the Glendale
Salvation Army, and offered their students to
help with whatever Mr. White might need.
That summer, the Glendale Healthy Kids Foun-
dation was serving free lunch to underprivi-
leged children in the area. The Falkons took
their FLL robots and the mat for the 2012 FLL
challenge with them out to Glendale and split
their volunteers: half served lunch to the kids
while the other half showed robots off to the
passing children. 589ers even allowed the kids
to take turns driving the LEGO robots around
the field, completing various missions. The
Falkons were able to expose robotics to people
who might not otherwise have known about it.
After serving lunch at the park, the Falkons
visited the Glendale Salvation Army’s site and
food bank, receiving a tour. Mr. White showed
589 the facilities and told them the best way to
support the food bank and the best types of
donations to give. The Falkons told Mr. White
to contact them if he ever found the food
bank’s stock running too low.
In the middle of January, Mr. White emailed
the team, seeking immediate help because the
food bank donations were critically low—an
unusual occurrence for January. Normally, the
Boys Scouts’ annual food drive carried the
bank through March. The Falkons decided to
hold a food drive in the middle of FRC season.
On a school holiday, Team 589 set up tables in
front of the doors of the local Ralphs in con-
junction with Girl Scout troops. As shoppers
entered the store, Falkons requested that they
purchase one extra can of food inside and do-
nate it on their way out. Many people bought
far more than one item, leaving all in the care
of Falkon Robotics to donate. After the food
drive ended, the business team took gift cards
(read more about the gift cards on page 34)
and monetary donations to buy even more
food for the food bank. At the end of the day,
Team 589 had collected 45 boxes of non-
perishables (above) for the Los Angeles Salva-
tion Army food bank, helping thousands of
families and individuals. The Falkons earned an
article in the local newspaper, and Rick White
himself said “The robotics and Girl Scout food
drive was a huge help.” Team 589 plans to host
many more food drives in the future, especially
when the food bank is running low on food.
Just following the 2011 FRC build season, Team 589 was looking to
make a bigger name for itself by attending and hosting more communi-
ty events. To kick it off, the team signed up for the La Crescenta Li-
brary’s 2nd Annual Chili Cook-Off. The cook-off, held in the local li-
brary’s conference room, challenges locals to make their best possible
batch of chili. At the library, visitors come by and sample each of the
different chili entries, placing their votes for the chili they like best.
Originally, the Falkons only planned to make and bring some chili
(named “RoboChili”) to compete. But—wanting to make a deeper im-
pact on the visitors—they also brought their 2011 “Logomotion” robot,
Julie. On one end of the room, Team 589 had their FRC robot and an
informational table staffed by robotics students. While people ate chili
and voted, they watched Julie place tubes on racks and talk to the
Falkons about their program.
That day, when the votes were tallied, the Falkons’ RoboChili took 3rd
place. This prize earned them a spot in the Montrose-La Crescenta
Patch newspaper and gift cards to the local flower shop. The flower
shop gift cards were later given to the winner of the t-shirt art competi-
tion, an open school wide challenge to design the 2012 ro-
The following year, Team 589 returned to compete in the 3rd
Annual Chili Cook-Off with their RoboChili. This time they brought with
them the 2012 FLL mat for “Senior Solutions” along with a couple LEGO
robots. Many young children came by the Falkons to see and drive the
little robots while their parents tasted chili. In the end, Falkon Robotics’
RoboChili won 1st place, earning the team
a crown, spots in multiple local newspa-
pers, and a $25 gift card to Trader Joe’s.
Upon accepting the prize, Team 589 an-
nounced that the gift card would be used
to purchase food that they would then
donate to the Los Angeles Salvation Army.
The 3rd place winners—so moved by the
Falkons’ choice—also donated their gift
card to the cause (read more on page 33).
The Falkons hold a special place in their
hearts for the Chili Cook-Off as one of
their first outreach events and plan to
compete for many years to come.
Top: A pot of award-winning RoboChili.
Right: Falkons telling event attendees about the FLL
program while they enjoy their chili.
Far right: The receipt of items bought by Team 589 at
Trader Joe’s for the Salvation Army.
The American Cancer Society has been hosting
the Relay For Life event in the Foothill area for
as long as Team 589 has been a team. The
event is a fundraising opportunity for treat-
ment of cancer patients and the ever-vigilant
search for a cure. Participants walk around a
track or field for 24-hours straight, always hav-
ing at least one team member on the track at
any given time. Symbolically, it represents the
fact that cancer does not take a break. Fellow
CV club Prom Plus had been participating in the
Relay For Life for a few years, and in 2012 the
Falkons asked to join their team. While
the Falkons’ main focus is to diminish
hunger in their city, the team decided to
also use their efforts for the fight against
cancer. That May, Prom Plus and Falkon
Robotics forged an alliance, working
together as one Relay team, mixing
members together. Altogether, the team
collected enough in donations to become
a Bronze Team, meaning that they had
raised over $2,500. In 2013, Falkon Ro-
botics split off to form its own team. In
2014, Tea m 589 raised nearly $2,000.
During the event itself members that
were not volunteering walked around
the track tirelessly and into the dark morning
hours. The team also hosted a booth at the
event, decorated with all sorts of bras, in ac-
cordance with the breast cancer fundraiser.
The Falkons’ business mentor even baked a
special themed cake for the two team mem-
bers who had spent their birthdays raising
money for charity. In the morning, just before
the tired participants went home and crashed
in their beds, the Prom Plus and Falkon Ro-
botics team won the “Best Theme” award for
its creative and fun breast-themed booth and
For the 2014, Team 589 wants to raise at least
$2,000 overall for the American Cancer Society
to get closer to the cure.
Top and left: 2012 robot “Melman”
supporting the cause.
Right: The 2014 Relay Falkons
hoping for the cure.
Relay for Life
2014 Chairman’s Essay
14 years ago, Falkon Robotics began as a single LEGO block. We knew that the process of growing by connecting new bricks would be laborious, but hoped that our investment would be worthwhile. Since then, Team 589 has grown from a simple 2x4 brick into a bustling LEGO metropolis, the kind that’s painful to step on with bare feet while crossing a fourth grader’s bedroom. We’re a city fueled not only by engineers and innovators, but by altruists as well. We have provided hundreds of students with the building blocks to reach success within our school, town, state, and country. We have founded 17 FIRST LEGO League (FLL) teams, coached a total of 25 FLL teams, started an all-girls Jr. FIRST LEGO League (JFLL) team, and built fields for FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) Teams. Not only do we proudly represent and spread the word of FIRST and its programs, we share a passion for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). No matter what we do, one constant remains: our determination to make both STEM and FIRST accessible to all. The single most time-intensive - and arguably most important program - apart from FRC of course - that we participate in is FLL. Three years ago, inspiration struck two sophomore Falkons. Full of fond memories of their own FLL experience, the pair established two FLL teams. In Fall 2011, ten elementary school students flooded Valley View Elementary’s Room 402 and ten Girl Scouts arrived at their Scout Leader’s door, an enthusiasm for robots igniting excitement in their hearts. At every meeting, a group of Falkons greeted the students, eager to coach. Anyone walking past the rooms might hear the roar of laughter over a funny line in a skit or a group countdown as a practice match concluded. Robots were programmed, projects written, skits rehearsed. One team panicked when its robot fell to the floor and LEGO shattered everywhere days before the competition. But we learned from it and in the end, the Falkons' guidance and leadership helped the students emerge victorious from this setback. Our competition day ended on a high note: we won the Youth Mentor Award. Standing ovations greeted us as our students ran to the stage to dogpile and high-five us. Invigorated by success, we sought to expand the program in 2012. With an extraordinary leap from two to 14 teams, Falkon mentors could be spotted around our community sharing their laughter, knowledge, and passion with local kids. Yet the success of our work reached even further than our many accolades showed. The spirit and love of each team we coached flourished, uniting us as one Falkon family. Our varied backgrounds didn’t matter at FLL. Students were just kids working to learn about STEM and communication skills through robots. We sought to nurture these children as a parent might, leading teams of ten-year-olds to victory in competition and in growth as good human beings. Falkon team member Isabel says that being an FLL mentor that year “changed her in every way” and gave her a new appreciation for being both a team member and a coach, teacher, and friend to her students. Collin, another mentor, reports that working with FLL teams helped him become a better communicator. In our efforts to continue this intensive and personalized effort, and also due to affordability issues at one of our schools (Rosemont Middle School), this year we dropped from fourteen FLL teams to eight. But we didn’t want to let that program go completely, so we created a new kind of program for our “Rosemonters” - a new after-school program, a variation of LEGO robotics that challenges teams in an internal competition without the expenses of registration and competition fees. Additionally, we coached a new Girl Scout JFLL team as part of a team member’s Gold Award project. Our Falkon mentors worked harder than ever, pushing their students beyond what they believed they were capable of. Viewers by the thousands sat at home on the evening of the Los Angeles FLL Championship and turned on CBS to see young Girl Scouts telling the story of their Falkon mentors’ impact on their interest in STEM. CVHS students walked to classes past posters announcing “We love you” and “Congrats on Youth Mentor Award” along the way. The Parent-Teacher-Student Association of Crescenta Valley selected robotics as the school’s top service club from over 100 candidates and the Valley View Elementary PTA awarded our FLL mentor Heather with the Cornerstone Award. Over 250 students have participated in our FLL program. And more than 3,000 volunteer hours later, we have only just begun. One measure of success is whether our kids stay with FIRST programs, and we are now seeing results. This year, seven of last year’s FLL members joined Falkon Robotics. 9th-grader Lucas was on FLL team “RoboSquirrels” last year under current-senior mentor, Heather. This year, they teamed up to coach a Girl Scout FLL team of their own. The girls delighted in their mentors’ stories, whether it be in the form of laughter over humorous anecdotes or thoughtfulness in response to important lessons of RoboSquirrels’ past mistakes. Lucas gained insight into the challenges of being in a teaching and leadership role - and he says that he can’t wait for next year to do it all again. All of our FLL mentors made the best of their own experiences in FLL and FRC to help their teams progress, in much the same way our FRC mentors
do for us. In 2012, we partnered with FTC Team 25 Rock n’ Roll Robots, a Los Angeles Girl Scout team that we proudly support and assist. We built a 2013 “Ring It Up!” and 2014 “Block Party!” field for them. We’ve a sent forces of Falkon volunteers to the Los Angeles FTC Qualifying Tournaments hosted by the Rock n’ Roll Robots. Seeing their work inspires us to mentor FTC teams as well and potentially even create a small program for FTC akin to our FLL program. The cornerstone of our FIRST involvement is FRC. Since our rookie year, we have been collaborating with neighboring teams, including 696, 702, and 2429. In the past few years, we have used social media tools to work with more distant teams, including teams 4400 Cerbotics (Mexico), 4673 Solar Engineering (Mexico), and 4960 Robótica del Liceo Politécnico (Chile). We have varying degrees of relationships with these teams: some we promote online and others we email with to update them on our progress and check in on their activities. Additionally, we have befriended Team 4501 Humans, a 2013 rookie team from Los Angeles. Any time we attend a community service or outreach event, we invite them to join us. The largest group of non-robotics students we advertise to is the student body at our school, Crescenta Valley High School. We work hard to make Team 589 accessible to all interested students or, at the very least, make all students aware of our activities and FIRST. In 2011, we challenged our school’s football and soccer players to a “Kick-Off.” Using a device we made for the JPL Invention Challenge - a kicker that delivered a football to a trash can - we took turns trying to score. Inevitably, the device ended up winning the competition, but the real victory was the attention the robot drew from the students and the conversations sparked between peers who had not known about our club. On Halloween, we loaded up our 2013 Ultimate Assist robot with huge quantities of candy and drove from table to table, giving it away to hungry students. Our efforts at school have not gone unnoticed either: more members are coming in to meetings with no prior experience, excited by demonstrations they saw. We take every opportunity to cultivate novel outreach opportunities. Two years ago, we learned that the Aerospace Summer Games (ASG) were going to be held at Dockweiler State Beach. This is an event in which aerospace companies compete with one another in games like beach volleyball and relay racing. In the past, FIRST had had no involvement in the event, but in 2012 we asked the coordinators if we could be the lead for bringing FRC teams. We requested FIRST promotional materials, brought huge FIRST signs, and invited fellow FRC teams to join us. At the event itself, we took part in the competition and also networked with a wide range of engineers and researchers. The intrinsic value of both sharing FIRST and learning about potential career paths keeps us coming back to this event. At science fairs, elementary school students have plowed our robots across playgrounds and caught their launched Frisbees. We have driven down Honolulu Avenue with a truckload of STEM students in the Montrose Christmas Parade. At the La Crescenta Library, families have enjoyed our award-winning, student-made “RoboChili” while chatting with Falkons and watching robots run . As CVHS students walked with their parents from class to class during Back-to-School Night, tissue paper rained down from the building balcony, shot out by a student-designed machine used in the JPL Invention Challenge. Our influence has spread beyond La Crescenta, reaching important state and national politicians and local policymakers. At the Crescenta Valley Home Town Country Fair, Congressman Adam Schiff and California Assemblymember Mike Gatto caught Frisbees tossed out by our robot and talked with our team about critical education efforts. As a School Board member, Joylene Wagner spoke to our FLL and FRC students, and has now made linking education with robotics a component of her mission statement. Step by step, we are working toward creating more recognition all over for FIRST and STEM in general.
Everything we have learned has added bricks to our town, every person we have engaged is a piece of our city. We were
a lonely brick once, focused solely on ourselves. Since then, we have grown. We connect with other teams, students,
and communities - building up a LEGO city so large and well-known that it is now a tourist destination where we can sell
cheesy t-shirts and snow globes. And we have only just begun.
2014 Woodie Flowers Essay
“Hey folks. Today was a good day. I think we’re closer to making good humans.” These words sound strange on the page, but in the context of FIRST Robotics, they are actually some of the most telling words we’ve heard. Dr. Greg Neat juxtaposes the building of a robot with the development of character, skill, and knowledge in those “humans” on his team - us. Dr. Neat is one to lead by example, but more than that, he is careful to let us start down the path towards a goal, and will help us validate whether the direction is viable.
Along the way, his analogies simplify problems to terms we can understand. “Hey guys, the challenge is like a candy store - you can’t eat everything” he’ll say after we’ve watched the game video for the 589th time. Dr. Neat encourages us to curb our appetite for tempting sugar and get to the heart of the challenge. Digging to understand the hardest part of the game appears to be one of Dr. Neat’s favorite parts of the FRC season. He asks us to step back, look at the tempting array, and figure out where other teams might be tripped up so we can avoid it ourselves. Dr. Neat has taught us moderation, amongst the many lessons we’ve learned from him. His approach embraces the “keep-it-simple” adage of engineering that we’ve all been taught but sometimes forget to remember.
Dr. Neat also strives to both ensure that everyone on our team is heard, and to make robotics accessible to all. “Neat never fails to listen to every idea, and all voices are made important. He is able to recognize whether a student is an extrovert or an introvert and accommodates for their need with both group projects and individual talks,” reads one of the twelve student nominations for Glendale Educator of the Year. Neat encourages robotics students to join other extracurricular activities in conjunction with robots, from cheerleading to football to band. In fact, it’s the reason Neat chose to teach at CV rather than other tech-based high schools: he values the importance of a well-rounded education and a diversity in and exploration of multiple fields.
In parallel to the promotion of “good humans,” Dr. Neat has worked exceptionally hard to cultivate a team of mentors that will enhance our experience. Our mentors are professionals across a huge range of fields who bring to the table unique skill sets that enrich our program; skills that are not Dr. Neat’s forte. As head coach of 589, Dr. Neat ensures that our mentors complement one another, and that they all mirror what is most critical to our program: making good humans.
Dr. Greg Neat is himself an amazing human. Through his careful work, the students who have passed through 589 have gone on to successful STEM careers in a wide array of fields: biomedical technology, software engineering, and aerospace, to name a few. He strives to inspire us, but not limit us. 14 years ago, Dr. Neat had the choice to keep his high-paying position at JPL or become a full-time teacher. We are so glad he chose us.
Impact A note from senior member Heather Abrams
This team is so much more than a club. It’s a new way of living.
Through this program, people have discovered new careers. But
more importantly, they have found a second family. Through
Falkon Robotics, I have changed and grown in ways that I never
before expected. In this short letter, I will try to sum up my own
feelings toward this team and hope they represent many others.
We’ll start at the beginning. My dad was a judge in Los Angeles,
and there was nothing I loved more than going to see him and all
the cool robots. In fifth grade I joined a FIRST LEGO League team
through the Girl Scouts. I remained with that program for three
years and I learned a lot. In high school, I joined FRC Team 589 and
worked in the “arm” group, building the arm that picked up and
placed tubes on racks. Being a part of that group was unique: we
had no idea what we were doing, but we still built something very
real and tangible that scored real points.
In my sophomore year, I started my own FLL team. I remembered
what I had done in FLL, and I decided to make that possible for
other kids like me. I went to my old elementary school and found-
ed a team for ten kids. Giving back to those kids was the most fun
and rewarding thing I have ever done. In FRC, I became heavily
involved with the business team, where I really discovered my
passion. I wrote the first edition of this book in a couple of sleep-
less nights and pushed the team’s Chairman’s work to the best it
had been in its history. In my junior year, my work with the team
only expanded. I was doing more service events than I could be-
lieve. Before I realized it, I was a mentor to fourteen different FLL
teams. I loved coaching those kids and getting to know them. I like
feeling like one day they will look back and talk about how I
changed some aspect of their life, or that I inspired them, or even
that I just made them laugh.
As I prepare to go away to college, there are a lot of things I will
miss. But they all pale in comparison to the ways I will miss 589.
They are a bunch of goofballs, they are strange, they are spirited,
and they are mine. This team brought me the greatest people on
earth through one of the greatest programs on earth. I wouldn’t
take back a moment of this experience.