Monday, December 04, 2006

NL FLL LEGO Robotics 2006 Competition Results

Here are the results from the NL FLL LEGO Robotics Competition held on December 2, 2006:


1st - St. Francis School
2nd - Brother Rice Junior High
3rd - Frank Roberts Junior High

Robot Performance
1st - St. Francis School
2nd - Frank Roberts Junior High
3rd - Brother Rice Junior High

Project Presentations
1st - St. Francis School
2nd - I.J. Samson Junior High
3rd - Lakecrest St. John's Independent School

Robot Design/Programming
1st - Leary's Brook Junior High
2nd - Brother Rice Junior High
3rd - St. Catherine's Academy

1st - St. Kevin's Junior High
2nd - Holy Name of Mary
3rd - Dunne Memorial Academy

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Update: Change in Venue and Reminders

Change in Venue

Due to unforeseen circumstances we will have to move the location of Saturday's competition from Mount Pearl Intermediate to O'Donel High School. O'Donel is a short way up and across the street from MPI (on the corner next to the lights).


I sent out an email to all teams and attached a competition schedule for Saturday's competition in MS Excel format.

Reminders and Rules

I have been asked to pass along a few reminders and rules for the competition.

- Only students on the team and mentors/coaches are permitted in the pit area. Team coaches/mentors are asked to make sure that this rule is being followed and ask any individuals that are not permitted in the area to leave. There is a public seating area where these people can sit and watch the competition.
- Due to space limitations in the O'Donel gym, and in an effort to preserve the equal opportunity of teams at the competition, mats are not permitted to be setup in the pit area by any teams. We will have two practice mats setup during the competition and teams will be scheduled times to practice. You are asked to make sure you follow the schedule and there will be a referee placed at the tables to assist with keeping the schedule.
- Please remember to bring a box to cover your RCX and LEGO Tower at your table when you download your programs.


Clar Button and Dwight Howse are the official FLL reps that will be running the competition this Saturday. If you have any concerns please feel free to contact them.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Skills Canada NL - Schedule

4th Annual Intermediate Skills Challenge

Saturday, November 25th, 2006

Mount Pearl Intermediate, Ruth Avenue, Mount Pearl

final schedule


8:00am – 9:30am Registration

9:30am – 10:00am Orientation – Q&A

10:00am – 3:00pm Competitions

11:00am – 2:00pm *Trade Demonstrations

4:30pm – 5:30pm Medals Presentation

*Trades demonstrations include:

Aesthetics, Hairstyling, Baking, Cooking, Bricklaying, Oil Burner Mechanic, Plumbing, Electrical Wiring, and Welding.

Skills Canada NL - Lego Robotics Update

Skills Canada Newfoundland and Labrador 4th Annual Intermediate Skills Challenge 2006 is just around the corner. As you already know, Lego Robotics is one of the many events taking place at Mount Pearl Intermediate on November 25th. Here is a list of teams that have registered and confirmed with Skills Canada NL:

1. Brother Rice Junior High
2. Dunne Memorial Academy
3. Lakecrest St. John's Independent School
4. St. Francis School
5. I.J. Samson Junior High
6. St. Catherine's Academy
7. G.C. Rowe Junior High
8. St. Kevin's Junior High
9. Leary's Brook Junior High
10. Beaconsfield Junior High
11. Frank Roberts Junior High
12. Baltimore School

If your school is not on this list and should be please contact Skills Canada NL and myself right away.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

NL Lego Robotics Teams Meeting

These photos were taken during the NL Lego Robotics Teams meeting that took place on October 14, 2006. The meeting was held at Frank Roberts Junior High and teams spent the afternoon working on Challenge 2006: Nano Quest.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Latest FLL email

Greetings Teams:

A few updates, notes, and reminders for you today!

Nanooze - Special Nano Quest Edition

The folks at Nanooze, a science magazine about nanotechnology for kids, have put together a special Nano Quest edition to tell you a bit more about the science behind some of the missions. These articles were written specifically for FLL teams so may be a great help in understanding the missions and the tiny world of nanotechnology. Go to the Nanooze website to read all about the missions.

Ask a Nanoscientist!

New - and available online now. The Museum of Science, Boston and the Materials Research Society are providing a great opportunity to assist with the tough questions that FLL Teams may have as they are researching nanoscience and technology for the Nano Quest Challenge. Go to the Ask A Nanoscientist Website to post your question. Once teams have had a chance to formulate questions, the questions and answers will be posted to the "Ask a Nanoscientist Website" - including yours! You may ask as many questions as you want, just check first to see if someone else has already asked it to save yourselves some

Rookie Teams

Participating in an FLL tournament is the best way for your team to learn! Even if your team doesn't complete as much as it wants to this season, take part in a competition anyway. Kids learn from seeing other teams' robots and projects, and they usually leave an event with great ideas for next year. You may even discover that the team accomplished more than they thought, and they always have fun at an event. And be sure to introduce yourself to other teams at the event; veteran teams love to mentor new teams and show them the ropes. That's what FLL is all about!

Challenge Q&A Available

Remember to check the Challenge Q&A often for clarifications, updates, and official rulings. Subscribe today!

Go Teams!

Friday, October 13, 2006

NXT CD and Training Online

I did an online Lego robotics course a couple of years ago through Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Academy ( Through the course I learned about the building and programming (using Robolab software) of Lego robots using the RCX-based Mindstorms for Schools kit.

With the introduction of the new NXT-based robotics kits this year, I have been looking into doing a similar course. The Robotics Academy is selling an NXT robotics curriculum (two-cd set) entitled, Robotics Engineering: Introduction to Mobile Robotics, Vol. 1 ( for $225.00 (US). With the purchase of the cd set you get an online teacher training course free (8 weeks).

I am considering this option so I thought I would pass along the information to anyone out there that may also be interested. The price is steep, but I learned a lot on the last course and I used the cd that I purchased the last time to teach my students.

BTW, they are still offering the RCX-based online training (8 weeks but no cd) for $55.00 (US).


NL Robotics Update

A few Issues and Events requiring your consideration:


October 14

Thomas Sheppard is hosting a working meeting for teachers and students at Frank Roberts JHS, Foxtrap Access Road, this coming weekend. It's a terrific opportunity for students to collaborate and learn a great deal about the design of mechanical and the programming aspects of the FLL competition. Teams willbring their own lego units, some will bring field set-ups, all will bring their own laptops for programming. Don't forget extension cords and power bars.

Other dates may follow.


We have had discussions about the dates of the Intermediate School robotics competitions.

November 25

We know that the Skills Canada Intermediate Skills Challenge (ISC-2006) will be held at Mt. Pearl Intermediate on Saturday, November 25th. There will be a robotics element to that competition, which will involve JUST the robot performance on this year's "Nano Quest" Challenge.

December 2

We are examining the dates and location for the full-fledge First Lego League qualifying competition. At the moment, we're pretty sure that the date will be Saturday, December 2, (the weekend after the ISC). We are investigating two sites.....Mt. Pearl Intermediate and St. Francis School , which have graciously offered to be our host venue. Both appear to be quite desireable, albeit for different reasons.

Pre-registration will be required.


We have secured permission to use the graphic art produced by Hi-Tech Kids, at a modest cost, and of course, we have access to the FLL Lego and Nano logos for the preparation of team T-shirts. You will be able to select one of an array of colours with these logos on the shirt, as well as your school name and possibly logo as well. My philosophy about these items is that they're excellent promotion for the school and the kids like to wear them. They should be good quality 50/50 shirts.

I'm making a guess at about $15-17 / shirt, given the artwork and the screen printing involved. Given that price, we need to know how many teams will order it as we will pre-order these units, on a pre-paid basis. It's something we need to get rolling now.


There will be a PD opportunity in FLL Robotics during the Avalon East Region close-out, and possibly also in the Avalon West Region PD close-out. Search your PD calendar for this opportunity.


We'll soon settle on a registration fee for the provncial competition, which will be a little higher than last year, but not enormous, when shared among the team. Pre-competition registration with a reasonable deadline will be a fact of life, as we have to plan on the numbers arriving.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Next Meeting

Hi Teams,

I will be hosting the next meeting for Lego Robotics teams. This will be an opportunity for you to bring along some team members and work on Nano Quest. Here is the info:

Location: Frank Roberts Junior High (Foxtrap Access Road, CBS)
Date: Saturday, Oct. 14, 2006
Time: 2:00pm - 4:00pm

We will be in the gym and we will have two mats setup to work on. If you want your students to work on the mat you will need to bring the following items:

- your computer with the programming software
- your robot and robotics kit
- extension cords

I would like to keep the numbers down due to supervision concerns so I ask that a maximum of 10 students per team be allowed. Please keep in mind that students will not be allowed outside the gym area and that you will be responsible for your students.

I am requiring a confirmation if you plan to attend and please include how many students you will be bringing. The reason is that I need to setup the gym and this can be a lot of work if the numbers are large. Deadline for confirming your attendance is Wednesday, Oct. 3rd. If you do not email me I will assume you are not coming.

I would like you to treat this as an opportunity for students to get together and learn from each other so please come with a spirit of co-operation. Also come prepared with questions and issues you wish to discuss.


Wednesday, October 04, 2006

NXT links

I was into the forum on the FLL site and noticed a few links about the NXT kit so I added them to the links menu on the right.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Dirt objects getting caught in the net

I found this on the forum this morning:

"The dirt pieces are Bonus Objects, worth 5 points each in the dirt trap, and 3 points each everywhere else on the table.

If the dirt does not make it into the trap, they are only worth 3 points. Unless they are in the ref's pocket when they are worth 0 points.

Having the dirt get stuck in the net is not a limitation of the model like the release mechanism of the atomic motor. It is fully expected that some dirt will be bounce in wild directions or get stuck in the net. Now is the time for your team to brainstorm a solution to this interesting problem."

Ruling from FLL on Unstainable Fabric Mission

Just had a reply from Scott Evans on the question that came up on Saturday. The question was did we have to bring the dust container to the marked area on the mat before we could dump the materials into it. As we said on Saturday, we don't even have to deliver the container at all if that's part of your strategy. There are points awarded for the dumper being empty, you just won't receive any points for delivering the container. The only way you won't get points for having the dumper empty, is if there's one piece left and the referee takes it because of a touch penalty.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

NXT Software

There is one thing I forgot to mention at the Orientation meeting about the NXT software. It seems to be easier to program than previous versions, but there's one major thing to keep in mind. It requires a minimum 256 megs of RAM to operate! I installed it on a P4 with 256 megs, but when the software is running, it's quite slow.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

First Meeting

Challenge 2006 - Nano Quest - Orientation meeting

Our first orientation meeting for the 2006 season will be held on Saturday, September 23, between 2:00pm and 4:00pm at O'Donel High School in Mount Pearl. The meeting will be in the Learning Resources (Library) room.

I will ask that we keep this first meeting for coaches/teachers only (no students). We will be including them in the next meeting.

BTW, the meeting is open to teachers in the Eastern District that are interested in Lego Robotics.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

FLL Forum Access Code

The FLL Forum is now open and your codes should work. I find it a great place to find answers to common questions, and other concerns that other teams have. You will find, however, that the best place to find out things is by following the American links. :)

Friday, September 15, 2006

Reminder: Orientation Meeting

Challenge 2006 - Nano Quest - Orientation meeting

Our first orientation meeting for the 2006 season will be held on Saturday, September 23, between 2:00pm and 4:00pm at O'Donel High School in Mount Pearl. We will be discussing this year's challenge and any other issues that teams bring forward. I realize that not everyone will be able to attend this meeting so please let me know if you are planning to attend. For those of you who cannot make it I will email out any details that are important that may have been discussed at the meeting.


Nano Quest: Fairness Bonus

Here is a new twist for this year:

Fairness Bonus

For 20 bonus points, an RCX robot must earn points in any 3 missions, or an NXT robot must earn points in any 6 missions.


Nano Quest: Stain-Resistant Fabric

Stain-Resistant Fabric

Mission: Test some stain-resistant fabric. The robot must deliver the dirt trap to its location mark and completely dump out the tester’s dirt dumper. The dirt trap at its mark is worth 15 points, and the dirt dumper when empty is worth 15 points. The dirt pieces are Bonus Objects, worth 5 points each in the dirt trap, and 3 points each everywhere else on the table. When removing dirt for a Bonus Loss, the referee takes stray pieces first, then pieces from the dumper, and pieces from the trap last.


Nano Quest: Nanotube Strength

Nanotube Strength

Mission: Lift the truck by a thin cable of carbon nanotubes. The robot must move the truck onto the lift frame and activate the lift. The truck completely on the frame is worth 20 points. The truck and frame supported completely and only by the cable is worth an additional 20 points.


Nano Quest: Pizza Molecules


Mission: Transfer molecules from the pizza toward the nose. The robot must get pizza molecules completely off the paper plate for 5 points each, and transferred to the yellow or black areas of the person’s head or neck for an additional 10 points each.


Nano Quest: Smart Medicine

Smart Medicine

Mission: Target medicine to reach only a specific problem spot. The robot must release the Buckyball containing medicine into the person’s arm. The Buckyball is placed anywhere in the red/yellow channel of the arm bone is worth 50 points (even if it hasn’t reached the problem spot).


Nano Quest: Self Assembly


Mission: Start the self-alignment of atoms. The robot must cause the angled blue nanotube segments to align horizontally end to end. This alignment is worth 30 points.


Nano Quest: Molecular Motor

Molecular Motor

Mission: Deliver an adenosine triphosphate (ATP) molecule to power a molecular motor, causing it to spin and release energy. The robot must deliver 1 of the 2 ATP molecules through the molecular motor’s black frame for 40 points (even if nothing else happens). The second ATP molecule represents a second chance to complete this mission, but points are only given for 1 delivered molecule.


Nano Quest: Atomic Force Microscopy

Atomic Force Microscopy

Mission: Free the probe’s nanotip. The robot must separate the nanotip from the material surface. The nanotip separated from the surface is worth 40 points.


Nano Quest: Atoms

Individual Atom Manipulation

Mission: Move individual atoms accurately. The robot must remove at least 1 white atom from the blue surface without removing any red atoms. Counting atoms left on the surface, a count of fewer than 8 red atoms is worth no points. A count of 8 red atoms and 7 or 6 white atoms is worth 30 points. A count of 8 red atoms and 5 or fewer white atoms is worth 40 points.


Nano Quest: Space Elevator

Space Elevator

Mission: Operate the space elevator. At least one robot must cause the car with the yellow cargo to come down. If this mission is completed, no matter which robot or robots worked on it, both teams get 40 points.


Thursday, September 07, 2006

Important Dates this Month

There are a couple important dates to keep in mind this month:

  • September 15 - FLL will officially launch Challenge 2006 - NanoQuest
  • September 29 - FLL Registration closes for Challenge 2006
I expect the mission information will be released on September 15th as well.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

No NanoQuest mission

I checked the FLL web site and could not find any information posted about the missions yet. I expect it will be posted soon so please keep checking.

Registering for FLL

To get started you will need to register online at the FLL web site. When you are going through the registration process you have to pay the following:

FLL Registration Fee: $180.00
Field setup kit 2006 (includes lego parts and mat): $78.00
RCX robotics kit (mindstorm for schools) OR
the new NXT robotics kit: $375.00

* This is in Canadian dollars (the web site will give you American prices) and taxes are not included.
* There is a new robotics kit out called the NXT and will become the standard but I anticipate that most teams will be using the older RCX-based kit.

Once you complete your registration, Spectrum will bill you for everything and ship your order to the shipping address you specified during registration.

If you decide to get involved this year it is very important that you order right away so that you can get started. The deadline for registration is September 29th.

Here is the web site for more info about registering:

This is the registration web site (link is also on info page above):

This is the web site for information about the competition:

Monday, September 04, 2006

NL Robotics Blog

I am hoping to use this blog as a source of information and help to those involved in lego robotics in Newfoundland and Labrador.