An Introduction to FIRST LEGO League!

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Over the past few weeks, the girls have been exploring the requirements of the FIRST LEGO League competition, starting off with a practice run through the 2015 TrashTrek season.

The competition, which starts on September 1st, 2016, involves three key elements:

  1. Project: The students will need to research and design an innovative solution to a real world problem.
  2. Robot Game: The team needs to program and engineer solutions to a number of ‘missions’, earning points.
  3. Core Values: Through their presentations to judges, and demonstration of team identity during the robot game students are expected to uphold the FLL Core Values.

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The FLL Core Values are as follows: 

  • We are a team.
  • We do the work. Our coaches and mentors help us learn, but we find the answers ourselves.
  • We share our experiences and discoveries with others.
  • We are helpful, kind, and show respect when we work, play, and share. We call this Gracious Professionalism®.
  • We are all winners.
  • We have fun!

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Learning the Ropes of the Robot Game

The Robot Game is a major, and very complicated, component of the FLL competition. The game rules run to several thousand words and over 12 pages, and they are incredibly exact. During the course of the robot game, students need to try and compete a number of game missions, earning points. Placing in the top 40% of the robot game scores is a key requirement for qualification for the national FLL competition.

In FLL 2015 “TrashTrek”, the missions included transporting scientists (mini-figurines), removing plastic bags from the ocean environment, sorting trash, and extracting compost from a compost machine. Once the robot leaves the home base in the corner, it is on its own – which means the girls need to program and engineer their mission solutions. We will find out the 2016 Animal Allies missions in just over a week’s time!

The first step in the robot game preparation is the planning and strategy meeting. This involves careful reading and extensive discussions of the mission requirements and rules, identifying their point values and grading their level of difficulty (Easy, Medium, Too Hard). Then the girls need to identify which missions can be grouped together into a robot run, and vote on which missions they will attempt to solve for the season. That’s when the programming and building begin!

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Exploring Robot Design and Engineering

In the limited time we’ve had before the 2016 season starts in earnest, we have only briefly explored robot design & attachment engineering. We have been really grateful to many parents who have joined us during these sessions to learn more about the competition, and we look forward to their future visits and expert assistance during the Animal Allies season.

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Experimenting with a hook attachment

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A prototype sweeper attachment – possibly a little wide?

While this is our first year in this competition, I am now more confident that our girls have prepared well for this year’s challenge, and I am sure they will do themselves proud when they arrive at the WA FLL tournament in late November. With less than a week to go before Animal Allies begins, things are about to get interesting (and busy)!

Good luck girls!

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And just for fun …

It was seriously depressing how many of our robotics girls didn’t know what this little robot was :(. And to top it off, our Principal didn’t know either! The poor coach, and his fellow Whovian students, were very disappointed!

 

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