Since the founding of our organization, we have grown, expanded, and changed significantly to become the family of programs we are today.
FIRST LEGO League Challenge Team Founded
The W.A.F.F.L.E.S. started as a community-based FIRST LEGO League Challenge (formerly FIRST LEGO League) team of kids ages 9 to 14. Teams research a real-world problem, develop an innovative solution, create and program a robot to autonomously complete tasks, and keep the Core Values of FIRST in mind while doing so. Originally working out of one of the coaches’ homes, the team has qualified for the World Festival twice and has a history of strong Core Values and robot performances.
FIRST LEGO League Explore Team Founded
In 2008, the W.A.F.F.L.E.S. expanded to include younger age group. The “Mini W.A.F.F.L.E.S.” were the start of our FIRST LEGO League Explore (formerly FIRST LEGO League Jr.) program for ages 6-10. Similar to FIRST LEGO League Challenge, teams in this program also research a real-world problem and form a creative solution for it. They show their learning through a motorized LEGO WeDo 2.0 model and a Show Me poster.
VEX Team Founded
As the members of our FIRST LEGO League teams teams began to age out of the programs, the W.A.F.F.L.E.S. started a VEX robotics team for high school students. VEX teams use a kit of parts to build a remote-controlled robot to compete and complete challenges on a 12’x12′ field.
First Year Hosting a FIRST LEGO League Regional-Festival
Each year since 2012, the W.A.F.F.L.E.S. have organized and hosted the local FIRST LEGO League Challenge regional and FIRST LEGO Explore Festival. Prior to that, we volunteered at the event for many years.
FIRST Robotics Competition Team Founded
To further expand the W.A.F.F.L.E.S. family of programs and make robotics accessible to more youth in the area, a community-based FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) team for grades 8-12 was formed. The first of its kind in Canada, the W.A.F.F.L.E.S. FRC team allowed any local students without a team at their school to join the program. In FRC, students have a six-week period to design, build, test, and program a 125-pound robot to complete in exciting competitions that change year to year. They work alongside community professionals and alumni mentors from Queen’s University, who guide as mentors and pass down knowledge. Students also work on the business and artistic aspects of the team, such as fundraising, award submissions, website design, and team media. In its first year, the team won the Rookie All Star award and qualified for the World Championships.
W.A.F.F.L.E.S. Summer Camps Founded
In 2014, we ran our first week of LEGO robotics summer camps to promote STEM programs for youth and support our teams. Since then, we have expanded to four weeks of fun and educational camps for ages 6-10 and 10+.
Not-for-profit Status Obtained
In 2015, W.A.F.F.L.E.S. Community Robotics became an official not-for-profit organization to extend our reach and opportunities in the community.
The City of Kingston Partners with The W.A.F.F.LE.S.
In 2015, a partnership was formed between W.A.F.F.L.E.S. Community Robotics and the City of Kingston. This mutually-beneficial relationship has provided the W.A.F.F.L.E.S. teams with meeting spaces over the years, while we give back to our hosts through initiatives such as event collaborations, promotion, and supply drives.
VEX Team Retires
In 2017, the W.A.F.F.L.E.S. VEX team retired, as we had established our FRC program for high school students and decided to focus our resources on the one program.
FIRST Tech Challenge Team Founded
As the W.A.F.F.L.E.S. have continued to grow in size and the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) program has expanded to Ontario, we decided to start our own team for grades 7-12 after taking part in a summer pilot program. A program with many similarities to VEX, FTC teams of up to 15 students work together to build and program a robot using a reusable kit of parts. The robots compete in a new game each year, which takes place on a 12’x12′ field in an alliances of two teams each. FTC is more advanced than the LEGO programs but still has a small scale and is highly accessible, making it a great program on its own or as a transition to FRC.
W.A.F.F.L.E.S. Community Robotics Now
Today, W.A.F.F.L.E.S. Community Robotics is a family of programs that houses a FIRST Robotics Competition team, a FIRST Tech Challenge team, and multiple FIRST LEGO League teams in the Explore and Challenge divisions. We run a range of popular camps every summer, participate in many public events and demonstrations to promote FIRST and STEM, and have several initiatives to support the community.