Team 1540: Building a roadmap to success

General Outreach Philosophy: 

As a driving force behind all of our outreach efforts, the Flaming Chickens believe that connection lies at the heart of all impact. Building personal connections with everyone involved in our outreach efforts allows Team 1540 to strive to make the world a better place. From developing engineering solutions for homeless communities in Portland, Oregon, to LEGO tutorials for educators and students around the globe, Team 1540 creates change through connecting with people and spreading our model for success.

Throughout our history, the Flaming Chickens have fostered a myriad of relationships, and through these connections lasting impact. By focusing on connections, the Flaming Chickens create events to maximize the FIRST experience, give back through community-focused engineering, spread the word about FIRST, and inspire the next generation of STEAM leaders. Understanding our community allows us to make a difference, and innovation drives us to set and accomplish our goals.

Making Fall Matter:


Our experience with projects like JuiceBox inspired us to connect yet again with the FRC community to address a new issue: other teams have the skills to engineer for their communities, but don’t know where to start. Using the same strategy that has worked so well with our BunnyBots and Girls’ Generation events, in 2014 we partnered with Autodesk and the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) to create Linking Engineering and Philanthropy (LEAP), a new preseason event to help FIRST teams apply their skills to make a difference. During LEAP, teams spend four days responding to a community engineering challenge. This prompt supplied removes the daunting task of starting a project and instead gives teams a scaffolding within which they apply their FIRST skills to make a difference. In 2014 Teams designed an exhibit for OMSI, and one of the winning teams used their experience and the confidence they gained to propel their own community-focused project the next year. Although LEAP ran into funding issues after the pilot competition, we worked hard to bring it back. We are in the process of receiving even more funding so LEAP can be revived this coming fall, and we hope to make LEAP grow beyond the PNW! 



The annual BunnyBots competition is a cornerstone of the FRC preseason for teams in the PNW. The Flaming Chickens believe that the best way to learn about a robot is to build a robot; BunnyBots provides a 12-week build season in the fall to help make FIRST more of a year-round activity. Learning necessary skills in the fall, when the stakes are lower and time more relaxed, is a great way to get ready for the heat of build season.  The result is a less chaotic build season with robots built more by students and less by mentors, with full participation by first-year members.  For many students, this is their first experience making a FRC-quality robot, and our team is no exception to the rule! Here are a few of examples of the robots we built this year.


          Girls' Generation: 

For more information, visit

Community Engineering:


JuiceBox is an efficient and sustainable way to provide electricity for off-the-grid, portable pods for previously homeless people.

  • The shelters "pods" are equipped with 100W solar panels that deliver power to the JuiceBox, mounted inside. 

  • The power of the sun is harnessed to charge an 18 AH 12V battery. Batteries are recycled from FIRST Robotics teams.

  • This power can then be used to power devices that plug into a wall outlet  (120V AC, 300W max) or 12V DC automotive accessory socket.

  • The battery also powers a bright LED light bar mounted on the front of the JuiceBox, perfect for illuminating rooms at night, and extending the day of the user.

JuiceBox is of the winners of The Lexus Eco Challenge First Round, where we won $10,000! All winnings are going back to the effort and will be used to fund the creation and implementation of more JuiceBoxes. 

For more information, go to

     Water Trotter:

Water Trotter is a cost-efficient way to easily transport water in developing countries by using easy-to-get and accessible resources. The prototype transports water while purifying it as the wheel turns. Ultraviolet lamps powered by solar pannels are placed between the two tires to kill the microbes in the water. This is beneficial for clean drinking water, and also for bettering the cooking process to help make the water safer to consume.


We intend to focus our development in a town called Gojo located in the Jeldu region of Ethiopia. We expect that the solution we develop will apply broadly throughout the developing world, however, Gojo is a prime example of the interaction of food and clean water scarcity and the negative effects upon the population. In Gojo, people walk up to five miles every day to fill up jerry cans, the average mode of transporting water in Africa, that weigh over forty pounds (40 lbs) when full. Women generally conduct this hilly trek before the sun rises in order to collect (dirty) water for themselves or their families. By the time they return home, there isn’t time or fuel to boil the water so they use the water in their food and to drink even while it still contains harmful bacteria.


For more information, go to


LostExhaust is a convenient carpooling solution for schools and businesses. LostExhaust takes advantage of the condensed living spaces of urban areas: that everyone is going to and from the same place. By connecting people with those who live near them and drive a similar route everyday, carpooling becomes a simple way to save time and fuel while helping the environment by reducing carbon emissions. Here is what the user interface looks like: 


To learn more about LostExhaust, contact the Catlin Gabel InventTeam via this link.


          Portland Mini Maker Faire:

As part of our outreach efforts to expand the community and range of FIRST Robotics, Team 1540 oversees many demos and outreach events to talk about the opportunities and experiences provided by FIRST. Every year since 2012, Team 1540 students have presented our robot at OMSI's Mini Maker Faire or Maker Faire to spread STEM and FIRST to broader audiences. As a result of collaborating with FRC and FTC teams alike, presenting at Maker Faire gives Flaming Chickens the opportunity to work with regular competitors as colleagues, thus simultaneously furthering and expanding the FIRST community. 


          LEGO Events:

Team 1540 hosts two FLL qualifying tournaments on a single weekend in December every year. Around 40 teams compete, including Catlin’s FLL teams. Each day of competition, we set up and run practice tables, host a live video stream, and run the games. This event helps the team reach out to members of the community who are unaware of FIRST. Team 1540 members have explained to countless people what FIRST is, and will continue to do so in the future. During the day, we also give tours of our robotics lab, nicknamed “The Outback.” We explain what FRC is and our schedule for the six week build season. Many FLL students have been re-inspired by simply watching our robot drive and function.

To connect with students and teachers all over the world, we created online LEGO programming tutorials on our resource website, With over one million views, these tutorials have provided teachers around the world, regardless of their experience with robotics, with an effective teaching mechanism to inspire kids and introduce them to STEM.