By Jock Mackinlay 2009/06/14

Tableau recently sponsored Wolverine Robotics Team 949 from Bellevue High School in the 2009 FIRST Robotics Competition. It was a good year for Team 949. They were given a Judge's Award this year for succeeding with an ambitious plan to grow the team (they went from a very small team to 32 students and started 2 FIRST Lego teams at the local middle school). They also were one of the top 8 teams in the preliminary seeding rounds at the Seattle Regional competition.

My daughter was co-president of Team 949 this year, which was a priceless educational experience. The students had 6 weeks to design and build their robot with the help of volunteer adult mentors who do science and technology in their day jobs. Content experts are typically very effective teachers. I remember, in particular, the day of the competition when a motor had failed in the robot. My daughter was deep in the robot diagnosing the problem when everyone realized it was time to head to the floor for the next match. She deftly put the robot back together and they made the next match.

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) has the mission to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders, by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership. We have developed the following interactive Tableau view to describe FIRST:

As you can see, the map views show that FIRST is an international organization with a large number of teams. The bar view shows that FIRST has been growing rapidly. We developed this interactive view as a resource to help FIRST teams with their fundraising. For example, Team 949 can select their state to show a potential supporter the growth of FIRST in their state (the number of teams more than doubled this year in WA because of a state grant). The team can also select the bar for their rookie year (2002) to show that they started at the same time as Newport High School.

Tableau views can also be developed to explore other aspects of FIRST. For example, a very common task is to find out information about a FIRST team such as their age or the number of students they have. The following view describes this sort of information for all the high school teams in FIRST for 2009. You can also search for a specific team and select it to compare it with everyone else.

The view starts with a search for “Bellevue”. You can change this to your location or the number of a specific team. We have selected team 949 for comparison. The four line views are histograms that show the number of teams for a specific attribute. The interesting student histogram shows that people tend to round off the number of students to multiples of 5. The triangles show how the selected Team 949 compares to the other teams. Finally the location of the team is shown on a map.

There are certainly additional views that can be developed with this FIRST data. Here are links to the workbooks for the first and second views, which contain the data and might be useful places to start authoring additional views.