2020 season was a rough year for our team, but the roughness probably created beauty. Overcoming challenges did become one of our team’s daily routines. Experienced members taught rookies how to deal with the problems as well, which raised a connection within the team. We know from the start that being a community team and having members from far off cities is harsh and challenging. As we did not depend on any institution, it was also hard to find a workplace and tools to work with. Through the season, we changed 4 workplaces, and the timings were the worst part. We got kicked from our first workplace for no reason right before the day of our first competition (Event Horizon Off-Season Event) without any prior warning. Yet, we coped with the last minute changes and even competed in the semi-finals in our first competition. Our second workplace was in one of our team member’s basement. As there was no sunlight or airflow, the place could cause some health disorders, so we needed to get out from there. After the second competition, we moved to our sister team’s workplace, but because the workplace did not have the capacity for two teams, we knew that it was temporary. Today, after all of these challenges, our success in Bosphorus Regional, and hours of discussion with advocacy, we moved to our workplace. Finding a workplace was a long and challenging process, but the most crucial part was that we knew how to deal with it, and we did not stop creating solutions until the end.
Sneaky Snakes’ was all about spreading FIRST and its message. This is the reason why we established Sneaky Snakes as a community team, to give everyone an equal chance. We currently consist of students from 4 different cities, the cities that FIRST is either no more than a name or have not been heard of before. Sneaky Snakes aim to inspire and teach the principles of FIRST to our members for them to inspire people and establish FIRST teams in their communities. So far, we have seen the results going better and better! The members of our team are ceaselessly working to inspire more and more people. Only in a year, we have reached more than 2.5M people! Our biggest challenge was also our biggest advantage of inspiring others. As we gather from distant cities, it is hard to organize events in which we introduce people to FIRST and STEM, yet things stay on the course now. Every one of our team members is at the level of organizing and managing activities to spread FIRST’s message. One of our most significant initiatives in spreading FIRST and STEM is our SScience Kits project. We reached and introduced FIRST to over 21K students from 52 schools, and 31 cities. It is only one way we spread the FIRST’s message, but it changed thousands of kids’ perspective to science, and we are willing to continue on our initiatives.
The word that best describes our transformation is leadership. Throughout the season, without even realizing, we followed FIRST’s main mission, to prepare young people for the future, to grow student leaders. Sneaky Snakes divides the team into multiple sub-teams thus, each student is fostered to take responsibility, to be a leader. With leadership, there come responsibilities that make research the KEY. Therefore, Sneaky Snakes’ students learn how to be leaders by making lots of mistakes, yet overcoming them by making lots of groundwork.
The experience was all we expected and more. Even though it was Sneaky Snakes’ first official year, the team had plenty of members who have seen and experienced FIRST, first-hand before, yet the 2020 competitions, with its diversity of culture, innovative game theme, and impressive judging process; managed to both surprise teams and made sure we all had a great competition.
Our biggest disappointment was learning that we were not eligible for the Chairman’s Award right before our Award presentation at the 2020 Bosphorus Regional due to being a New Veteran Team. To move past this and reduce the odds of it happening again, we have written a New Veteran Team Guide which will be available for every student internationally at our website ResourcesFIRST which will launch soon! Also, we talked about this incident in Sneaky Sessions, our podcast series available in Spotify, so that everyone would be informed!
The country we live in, Turkey, is a multicultural place. Dozens of civilizations lived in the current land of Turkey. As our community has people from different cultures, so does our team. We support and implement the idea that teams should be the reflection of their communities. In our team, aside from Turkish, we have members who speak Arabic, Kurdish, Romanian, Greek as their native languages, and we wholeheartedly encourage them to live their own culture. With the members who have different ethnicities in our team, we also reached out to their ethnic communities and introduced them FIRST. 40% of our team consists of girl members. It is above average than the robotics teams in Turkey, but it is not currently enough for our team as we solely support and wish for a fully equal team in all means. From the start of our team, we continuously aim to equalize everything, and we have been acting for it. We are now able to see the fruit of the process and our actions. We are happy with the result, and we will continue doing so.