In the fall of 2007 some STEM-focused homeschoolers got together and . . .
Established FIRST Team 2421, Rolling Thunder Robotics. We competed with great success at the 2008 Virginia Regional Competition held at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). We won two trophies: Top Rookie Team Award and Top Eight Team Award. Since then, our name has condensed to RTR Team Robotics and we have competed in the DC Regional seven times and the Chesapeake Regional four times. In 2010 we were awarded the Engineering Excellence Award at the DC Regional, and in 2013 a mentor won the Woodie Flowers Award for Outstanding Mentorship. In 2014, we were a finalist at the Chesapeake Regional, and in 2016 we won the Chesapeake District Northern Virginia Event. During the 2017 competition season we did our best ever—competing as a finalist at both the Chesapeake District Northern Virginia and Central Maryland Events. The team racked up enough points to qualify for the first time to compete at the FIRST World Championships in St. Louis, Missouri. For 2018, we hope to have another outstanding season and make it to the FIRST World Championships in Detroit, Michigan!
We are a local, community team accepting students from all educational environments (public, private and home). Over the years our team has grown to 30-40 students at times—some homeschooled and some not. We started out building in garages and basements. Then built in the Boeing and Shirley Contracting Corporation warehouse. For 2016 we were in a loaned barn. In 2017 (and again in 2018), we moved up to donated retail space thanks to Springfield Plaza LLC.
RTR Team Robotics has come a long way since 2007 with financial assistance from many sponsors. We are very appreciative to have our dedicated adult mentors, who continue to share their knowledge and skills even though they have busy lives. We also have supportive parents. Every year our students are amazing—they have a desire to learn and aspire to do great things individually and as a team.