Sunday, December 11, 2016

Vermont Regional FLL Competition

What a day!  It's fair to say that our team had a great experience at Norwich University and are very excited by what is next.

Our team did a wonderful job during all parts of the competition.  The project presentation was right on target, impressing parents and judges alike.  The engineering overview was great as well, with team members stepping up in leadership roles to explain the mechanical design and software programming that made our robot tick.  Even the robot game had a thrilling conclusion, with us scoring our highest point total on our final run.

The highlight for us came during the awards ceremony.  Our team was chosen to receive the Global Innovation Award for our project on using open data to map and promote native bee habitat.  This allows us to apply to participate in the next level of competition.

Westford should be very proud of our team.  The Periodic Pandas will be the only team potentially representing Vermont at the international level of competition.

WCAX ran a story on the 11:00 news about the competition.  Keep your eyes peeled for our team and and listen for a baffling mispronunciation of our team name.  

More photos can be found here.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Ready for competition!

It's been an exciting year and we're only a few days away.  Even though everybody is starting to feel a little anxious, it is important to remember that this is all about what we learn.  Even great teams can have an off day, so keep a good attitude and remember to have fun!

There are lots of materials available to help you navigate the day successfully.  I've updated the Resources page with everything you might need for the day.

See you all on Sunday!

Monday, October 10, 2016

One of the best resources I've found for some really great "how to" info is

Check out the link at home and read up on the topics that we'll need for a successful robot build.  They start from the basics and just keep going.

Every team member should be trying to learn and research outside of practice, then bring that expertise back to share with the group.  It can be as simple as watching a youtube video...

Robot design considerations

We are starting to think about attachments, design, and tradeoffs for our robots.  What can we do to minimize the variability that comes from the design itself?

Problems like catching a wall, drifting from a straight path, and turning reliably will impact everything the robot does, so it pays to experiment and choose the best solution.

Watch this video for some ideas on how other teams thought about the problem.

What are the requirements for a reliable robot design?

Friday, September 30, 2016

Monday practice reschedule this week

Due to a conflict with a school board meeting, the Monday practice is being moved to Tuesday.  Same time, same place, and just for this week.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Whiteboard to-do list

Team members have been generating a running to-do list as we explore our robot game.  The student who originally asked the question is responsible for doing some research and reporting back to the group.  Is your question on the board?  How are you researching the question?

Our model builds are now done, so we are shifting gears into design and programming of the robot.  The most critical input to this process is a sharp knowledge of our desired outcomes.  The goal of building the robot will be to accumulate the most challenge points in two and a half minutes of competition.

Strategies that students brainstormed:
  • Go for the highest point value tasks
  • Go for the easiest tasks
  • Identify tasks that can be accomplished at the same time/on the same run
  • Identify tasks that can be accomplished with the same robot attachment (hook, bucket, claw, etc.)
  • Identify the most efficient path of travel for a given set of tasks
  1. Now that we've used the models and set up the board, watch the video explaining each challenge again.    Pay very close attention to the models and the mechanical actions required.  Did your team build the model correctly?  Is your model working the same way as the video shows?  Is it placed on the board in the proper place?
  2. Work through Field Research Module 2.  As with the models and challenges, the best way to understand what to expect at the competition is just to experience it.  If you find a great video you'd like to share, email me the link and I'll post it.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Challenge Points

All of the Challenges and their point values were added to the resources page.  Check out the document to get an idea of what each challenge is worth.

What tools should we think about adding to our vehicle to accomplish each task?  Are there tasks that could be done at the same time?  What combination of tasks could give us the most points in the least amount of time?

Start thinking strategically about these.

Monday, September 19, 2016

First meeting recap, Friday planning

Our first practice is in the books, and it looks like we've got a bright and enthusiastic crowd.  Our next meeting will be this Friday, from 5:30 to 8:00 again.  We will be heads down, building all of the LEGO models and machinery we'll need for our competition board.

Parents:  You should be receiving an email from me shortly if I have your email address.  If you haven't contacted me, please fill out the form on the right so that I can build a parent mailing list.  We will need some help providing healthy snacks for kids.  A signup sheet is available here, please sign up for some slots to keep our engineers on task.

I've added some additional Q&A to the FAQ page based on feedback tonight.

Many kids were very interested in learning more about the programming language, how the robots work, the sensors we can use, etc.  There are tons of great resources available online.  If you're looking to cultivate their curiosity...

  • visit the Resources page to download the LEGO EV3 software (free), check out the Mindstorms website, and more.  The LEGO EV3 software includes tons of tutorials which will help your child get familiar and confident with our programming environment.
  • pull up some FLL Youtube videos.  Learning from other kids is a great way of reinforcing the material from our practices
  • Visit the FLL website and explore.  There are tons of materials available.  

Kids:  You have some homework for Friday!

  1. Read the Challenge Guide and Challenge Point Values then talk about it with your parents or guardian.  What questions do you have?  
  2. Take a look at our Core Values and team expectations.  Come to each practice ready learn and work with your team.  
  3. Fill out the Field Research paper and bring it with you.
  4. Check out the build instructions and building tips.  What strategies will you use to work with your teammates to be sure that our finished models are correct?  Is there a particular model that you'd like to work on?

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Welcome to the Westford School LEGO Robotics Club!

Are you interested in joining our team?  Check out the FAQ for the quick details about what it takes to participate.  If you want to sign up or have questions, use the email form in the sidebar to get your child on the coach's mailing list.

Practices are tentatively planned for Mondays and Fridays from 5:30 to 8:00.  First meeting will be Monday, September 19.
Each year, a new challenge theme is released by FIRST LEGO League.  This year's theme is Animal Allies.  Watch the video below for a quick introduction to this year's Challenge.