Published using Google Docs
Team Handbook
Updated automatically every 5 minutes


 Team 5421: Birch Bots

Birch Wathen Lenox School


Team Handbook



Welcome to Team 5421, we are excited for you to join us on this adventure! The handbook you are about to read will cover all the important information you need to know and the expectations of Team 5421.


This team thrives on the dedication of our members, of which, we cannot work without. By participating, you directly help the team succeed. With the dedication of our members, and the fulfilment of all responsibilities, our team will be able to run smoothly. We hope, by joining us on our journey, that you will acquire skills that will help you succeed in the future.

Mission Statement:

The Birch Bots, Team 5421, work hard throughout the year to foster an environment in which every member has a place and a role within our community, with the ultimate ambition to positively affect and influence the wider world. By offering many diverse opportunities, we encourage students, regardless of one’s abilities or prior experiences, to join our journey of working together for competition and enjoyment.  

Who are We?:

We are known in the FIRST community by our team number, 5421. This number will never change and will never be used by a different FRC team. Our official name is: FRC Team 5421 Birch Bots. 


The Birch Bots, team 5421, is the Birch Wathen Lenox School’s ascendant FIRST robotics team. Being from a boutique, preparatory school in Manhattan, we have stepped up to the challenge of growing and advancing our small team to its fullest potential. Even though we are still a fairly ‘young’ team, we have more than doubled our team's size over the past 3 years. We’ve expanded from 10 to over 25 students. With the help of our mentors, the enthusiasm and dedication of the entire team, we aspire to coalesce as a unit, while improving our individual skills. After attending the past 4 NYC regional competitions, many off-season events, and the 2015 St. Louis Championships, we have gained experience and knowledge that has helped elevate our team in every way possible. Under the thoughtful and experienced guidance of our mentors, the students take it upon themselves, with their own initiative, to build, program, and manage the team. Our goal as a team is to improve our own abilities, according to what the individual student is inclined to do. Regardless of your interests, abilities, or experience, all students in the school are encouraged and welcomed to join our team.​


In Late 2014, Team 5421 was started by former mentor Ed Brown, and student Scott Mandelbaum ‘16. The team began to develop with the help of two mentors, Ed Brown and Woody March-Steinman, and a total of 13 members. The team was lead by captain (Scott Mandelbaum ‘16), lead mechanical (Miles Ripka ‘17), lead electrical and programing (Harry March ‘17), and lead social (Avery Arjang ‘17). The team stormed out of the gate, participating in the 2015 challenge, Recycle Rush. The team participated in the New York City Regional, competing against 66 teams from the Tri State Area and from around the world. During the event, the Birch Bots won the Rookie All-Star award, giving them a trip to the World Championship in St. Louis, MO. The Birch Bots then competed with teams from over 50 nations for the world champion title. During the postseason, the Birch Bots competed in two off-season events: Monty Madness and Brunswick Eruption. Every year, the Birch Bots continue to participate in off-season events, in addition to the annual regional event. So far, we have participated in Monty Madness, Battlecry @ WPI, Where is Wolcott Invitational (WIWI), Brunswick Eruption, and Girl Power competitions during the yearly events.

Awards and Achievements:

• 2015 NYC Regional: Rookie All-Star

• 2016 Where is Wolcott Invitational (off-season): Finalist (Captain of Alliance #3), Bill Reis Award (Ed Brown)

• 2017 Where is Wolcott Invitational (off-season): Winner (Alliance #1)

• 2017 Brunswick Eruption (off-season): Quarter Finalists (Alliance # 7)

• 2018 NYC Regional: Quarter Finalists (Alliance #7)

• 2018 Battlecry@WPI (off-season): Alliance Captain #12

• 2018 Where is Wolcott Invitational (off-season): Quarter Finalists (Alliance #7)

• 2018 Brunswick Eruption (off-season): Semi- finalists

What is FIRST ?:

Some information taken from the first website where you can find even more information about FIRST Robotics:

FIRST Overview:

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) was founded by inventor Dean Kamen in an effort to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology. FIRST is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit, public charity based in Manchester, N.H. FIRST is volunteer-driven and built on partnerships with individuals, businesses, educational institutions, and governments. Well respected companies provide funding, time, talent, and equipment to make FIRST’s mission a reality.

Gracious Professionalism®:

A large part of the success of many teams and of FIRST itself is the immense emphasis on teamwork. Dr. Woodie Flowers, FIRST National Advisor, coined the term "Gracious Professionalism®." Gracious Professionalism is part of the ethos of FIRST. It's a way of doing things that encourages high quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community. With Gracious Professionalism, fierce competition and mutual gain are not separate notions. Gracious professionals learn and compete like crazy, but treat one another with respect and kindness in the process. Knowledge, competition, and empathy are comfortably blended. In the long run, Gracious Professionalism

is part of pursuing a meaningful life. One can add to society and enjoy the satisfaction of knowing he or she has acted with integrity and sensitivity.


Coopertition® produces innovation. At FIRST, Coopertition® is displaying constant kindness and respect in the face of fierce competition. Coopertition® is founded on the concept and a philosophy that teams should help and cooperate with each other, even as they compete. Coopertition® involves learning from teammates. It is teaching teammates. It is learning from Mentors. It is managing and being managed. Coopertition® means competing always, but assisting and supporting others when you can.

What We Do:

FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC):

The FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) is comprised of thousands of teams worldwide. Every January FRC releases a challenge that requires teams to, in the short span of 6 weeks, design, build and program a robot that is to compete in a 3 vs 3 games. Members will work together with mentors and other students to design and build technically advanced robots in these 6 weeks to compete in Regional and other events throughout the year.

FRC Awards:

Every year FIRST comes out with a list of awards that teams can apply for during the build season. We plan to apply for all possible awards. More information and specifics will be given to each award subteam. There are also some awards that are given out at the competition. At the regional judges will be walking around so it is important that you are always following the safety and competition rules to avoid disqualification from any awards. When the judges stop by the pit, a specific team member will talk to them as our team’s representative.

Team Rules and Practices:

Build Space:

In 2018 we moved from 65 to 73B, 73B is a smaller space and there are new rules. Food may only be eaten in the room on the tables but not while machinery is running. To use the tools everyone must pass the safety test. The CNC may only be used with proper training and permission. Rules will be added and members will be informed


Workshops are a crucial part to members success on the team and it is required for a student to attend one + the safety workshop . Workshops will be scheduled throughout the fall and with this new and returning team members will learn skills that will be used in their specific job or other jobs on the team.    


Good safety practices in the lab and at competition ions are required in order to participate! Team members must attend the safety workshop as well pass the safety quiz to use any tools in the shop. If a member is caught by the safety captain doing something “Unsafe” ie. using a drill press without safety glasses. They will be given a warning and if it continues consequences will be given out accordingly

Job Politics:

Jobs are either assigned or selected by team leaders or by the team member. These jobs are subjected to change by either request from team member or at discretion of team leaders. Please see jobs list if you are curious in what's available  

Team Policies:

All members are required to attend 1 workshop + safety workshop. Periodically check their school email, team calendar and especially slack daily. Information about the team and/or upcoming events will be announced in these places. Respecting mentors, captions and sub team leaders is crucial to team success.

Team Leadership:

The team is led by teacher mentors and student captains. The captains are selected by the mentors based on participation and effort shown throughout years on the team. Leaders have a say on how the team works and runs. If team members have any issues throughout the year please speak with the leaders.  

Build Season:

Build season is comprised of a 6 week period from early January to late February and it is the only time before the regional competition where we are allowed to work on our robot.


In early January, we will meet in the school as a team to watch the kickoff event. Some team members are allowed to attend the NYC Kickoff at Columbia where there are special speakers before the livestream begins.

Kit of Parts:

This is a kit that FIRST gives teams at the beginning of the build season. It includes game pieces and some other parts from sponsors.

Stop Build Day (Bag and Tag):

This is a day in late February where we have to stop all work on the competition robot and it goes into a closed bag until our regional event.

After Build Season:

After build season we will take some time off and then have our build season recap. During this time, we will talk about what we like about the robot and what we don’t like. From here, we will go through and start rebuilding and redesigning mechanisms and other items to improve our robot for a later time.

At Competitions:

How Jobs are Selected:

Drive Team:

Drivers and operators are selected through knowledge of rules in a written test and driving test test will be given out at an appropriate time with a week notice.

Human players are selected by written test and on field test.

Competition Jobs:

Jobs are given to students based on a variety of factors. First, the student’s job during build season helps us figure out what position they should have during the competition. Second, performance and activeness in their job impacts the decision of what role they deserve. Third, teamwork always matters; we ask ourselves: does this student work well under pressure and stress and can they work together with others as a team? Before the event, the Admin team will have a discussion to see which people fit best working in each position. All jobs are important to the team Success.

How it works:

In the regional event the competition works in the following way: All teams participate in qualification matches for two days. Day 2 of the event includes qualifications matches in the morning, with alliance selections followed by elimination play for the rest of the day.


Teams participate in a number of qualification matches. The number of matches we get to participate in is based on the number of teams at the event.

Alliance Selections:

For alliance selection, the top 8 teams from qualifications pick 16 additional teams to join the alliance. They pick in order from the #1 spot to the #8 spot then #8 through #1.  This creates playoff alliances of three teams each.  Depending on the event, backup robots are either selected by the alliances or are picked due to their order in the remaining rankings.


Teams play in best of 3 matches going from quarterfinals, semifinals, finals.

Winners of the event compete at the world championships in Detroit.  


Safety is always our number 1 priority. At the competition all team members and parents entering the pit or the field must be wearing safety goggles. The pit is closed to all students who do not have permission to be in the pit during the active competition. If students try to enter the pit without permission, they will be asked to leave. This is done for the sole purpose of avoiding overcrowding. During breaks (i.e lunch), students without a pit pass are able to come in and show parents and guests. All other safety rules are up to the team safety captain.  


All team members and other supporters that are in the pits or the stands are expected to behave in a mature and professional order. Everyone should always be acting in a gracious and professional manner, exercising good sportsmanship and kindness to members of all teams at the event.

Handbook Authority:

Rules and policies in the handbook are subject to change and the team will be informed. The rules and policies are to be followed by all team members. By signing the team contract you agree to the handbook rules and regulations.

Photo Release Form

I hereby grant permission for video recordings and digital photographs to be taken of me and/or any of my work created in participation with the Birch Bots robotics team. I understand that these photos and videos may be used on the team’s instagram, website, YouTube, and all other media platforms.

I understand that once a photos is posted, it may be downloaded by a third party, and I agree that I will not hold Birch Wathen Lenox School responsible for this.

Participant’s Name (print): ___________________________________________

Signature: ________________________________________________________

Date: ___________________

Parent/Guardian's Name (print): ______________________________________

Signature: ________________________________________________________

Date: ___________________


Email List Subscription

By providing my email address, I agree to signing up for frequent email blast updates from the Birch Bots that will include news, information, and more about the team and our robot.

Email #1: _________________________________________________________
Email #2: _________________________________________________________

Email #3: _________________________________________________________

Team Contract

Team 5421 expects all members to behave in a safe and mature manner.

By signing the safety and behavior contract, I acknowledge and understand the following points:

  1. I have read team 5421’s handbook and agree to comply to the policies outlined in it.
  2. I will attend as many meetings as possible, especially during the build season. Unless there is an unchangeable prior commitment, I agree to attend all mandatory meetings and competitions.
  3. I understand that the tools being used can be dangerous, and if used irresponsibly, can cause harm to myself and/or other members and mentors. If I misuse my privileges in the shop, they may be revoked or modified to enforce safety on the team.
  1. Any tool I use must be accompanied by the proper safety material.
  1. I agreed to exercise the beliefs of FIRST in that I work well with my team members and members from other teams. I will be respectful to fellow members, captains, and mentors. I will exercise good sportsmanship at competitions, be kind, and always be willing to lend a helping hand.
  2. I will clean up after myself to keep the robotics room clean and to keep the pits at competitions organized.
  3. I will frequently check all communication sources, including the website, slack, the calendar, etc., to stay up to date on the newest team information.

Participant’s Name (print): ___________________________________________

Signature: ________________________________________________________

Date: ___________________

Parent/Guardian's  Name (print): ______________________________________

Signature: ________________________________________________________

Date: ___________________