Thursday, December 13, 2007

2007 NL FLL LEGO Robotics Competition Results

Here are the Final Standings:

Robot Performance St. Francis Br. Rice Persalvic
Research Project Frank Roberts McDonald Drive Holy Name of Mary
Design and Programming St. Francis Baltimore Leary's Brook
Teamwork Dunne Memorial Frank Roberts I.J. Samson
OVERALL St. Francis Br. Rice Leary's Brook

Most Improved Team St. Kevins

Against All Odds, Team St. Thomas of VillaNova

Sunday, November 25, 2007

2007 NL Skills Canada LEGO Robotics Results

Here are the Top 3 results from the event:

1. Dunne Memorial, St. Mary's
2. Brother Rice, St. John's
3. St. Francis, Harbour Grace

Directions to Frank Roberts Junior High

View Larger Map

NL FLL LEGO Robotics

Competition info:

When: Saturday, December 8, 2007
Where: Frank Roberts Junior High, Foxtrap Access Road, CBS
Time: 8:00 - 4:00pm (tentative)
Contact: Thomas Sheppard (

Saturday, November 17, 2007

HighTech Kids site is worth a look

MN FLL/MN HSR Training Download Facts

The NXT STEP Blog: Robot Design

Some advice about NXT robot design and programming.


The NXT STEP Blog: Overview of 2007 Power Puzzle Missions

The NXT STEP Blog: Missions

Tech Brick

The following web site has a lot of great resources for new and experienced teams.

Tech Brick

Power Puzzle Scoring Sheets

The following web site has MS Excel spreadsheets with the 2007 Scoring rubric.

Power Puzzle Scoring Sheets:

Advice for Teams being Interviewed by Technical judges

This is an excerpt from the FLL International forum and requires teams to login to view.

Observations of a Tech Judge

1) Teach your kids to answer questions accurately and briefly. I often would get rambles like: "And then we added the yellow beam, and then the blue on, or was it the red one? Suzy did that last week right after we had that great pizza! You like pizza? I sure do!" The longer you take to answer a question the fewer questions we can ask. But this is not your ticket for monosylabic answers. Answer the question answer it well and then allow the judge to continue.

2)As judges we have a hard time limit we can't deviate from. We may be forced to cut you off mid sentence. We are not rude, but having to watch the time. How I wanted to spend another hour talking but had to cut it short in the middle of a facinating exchange.

3) We may not be the teamwork judges, but this is not the time for a team to start arguing!

4) This is not the time to have the kids have ego problems about who built what. I care that all the kids were involved, but I am not keeping a taly. The kids should be taught to celebrate the TEAM'S ideas.

5) Students who hog the conversation are not helpful. I know that its often one or two kids that form the technical backbone of the team. But other team members need to be involved. The quiet kid needs to be given the chance to say something even if its just "Hi, we are team XYZ from ABC town. While the team sets up, I would like to give you our software listings."

6) It is often the case that the team introduction sheet you filled out for the tournament director did not get trickled down to the judges. Bring a second copy to hand to us.

6.5) The photo on your introduction page is IMPORTANT and should be in full uniform as we will see you at competitions. The photo is critical when we try to stretch back to remember your team when deciding on awards. We often talked about teams as the "red shirts" or the "white shirts" not by the team numbers.

7) Your listing in a nice folder can be helpful.

7.5) If you use a laptop (that fine as well) make sure it is powered on and the application is loaded as well as all the programs. Having to wait for NXT-G to load on a slow laptop robs your team of precious minutes I could be appropriate questions.

8) A single page specification is also helpful. A picture of the bot, small team photo, number of motors and sensors, interesting features, etc.

9) If you have things that are important for us to see, please jump in. We are more than willing to let you steer the comveration somewhat. "Yes, we are using two motors for locomotion as well as having incorporated a limited slip differential similar to the one in the book "Building LEGO Robots for FLL" is a much better answer than "Yes, we are using two motors for locomotion".

10) If asked if you have anything you would like to add, NEVER EVER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE say no. Always have several things in reserve that you can talk about. You NEVER want the judges to think that they were able to fully debrief you in 10 minutes!

11) Make sure that when you go in that the team knows the top points they want to make sure get discussed. I saw one team with a sophisticated drive system never explain it. Now it was possible it had been built for them but just as likely the kids were not aware that they should have mentioned it. Judges are not clairvoyant.

12) Personal skills are not lost on me. When team members are not anwering a question they should be attentive and not talking to other team members. It may not change the technical capability of your robot, but it changes my perception of it. Sorry, but I am human.

13) Fiddling with noise sources like a pocket full of change, noisy necklaces, and whistles have no place when I am trying to concentrate on your team. It is distracting to me and hence I can't do my beat job for your team.

14) Along the same lines, try to to feed the team sugar ten minutes before hand. Find a way to calm them down while you are waitting for your turn. Some teams use prayer, some use directed imagery, whatever works for you.

15) As a coach, make sure you take no part in the interview. I understand that you are an integral part of the team. But on game day, the coach sits on the sidelines and lets the team do the playing. Sit somewhere where the team can't see you. When a hard question comes up, they will have to think for themselves rather than trying to take cues from you. There are a few if any exceptions. The fact that three of your programmers are absent due to the flu can be explained by the team as well as the coach.

16) If you are concerned about handicaps that may seriously effect judging, let the tournament director know in advance. It can be helpful for us to differentiate the reason for behaviour issues.

Now all of this sounds like I am an old grumpy man. I am not. Middle aged at best. What I can tell you is that the above skills are important in life. The sooner the kids learn this, the better of they will be and the better they will judge.


2007 Power Puzzle: Fairness Bonus

This is an excerpt from the FLL International forum and requires teams to login to view.

Calculating Fairness Bonus


The parts of the bonus are considered separately. Your raw score puts you in one of the three categories:

# 0-100
# 105-325
# 330-395

not all of them. There is a different way specified to calculate the bonus in each category.

Note all raw scores are multiples of 5.

In the top category, scores are replaced:
330 --> 386
335 --> 387
340 --> 388
345 --> 389
350 --> 390
355 --> 391
360 --> 392
365 --> 393
370 --> 394
375 --> 395
380 --> 396
385 --> 397
390 --> 398
395 --> 399

Mathmatically, these could be expressed as

# 0-100, Bonus = .6 * RawScore
# 105-325, Bonus = 60
# 330-400, Bonus = .8 * (400 - RawScore)

(The bonus is the amount added to the raw score.)

Video of team in Netherlands completing missions

C-3PO FLL Power Puzzle

Monday, October 15, 2007

Rule Questions

Here's the official answer from FLL on the questions we came up with on Saturday. Here's the complete conversation. The answers in italics are from Scott Evans, FLL Engineer and Match Designer. He's the one who designs the challenges each year, and makes up the rules.

1. If the red truck is brought back to base by the robot, can the student then move the truck to the parking lot (by hand) to complete the requirement of having it in the parking lot at the end of the match?

No. QA25 clarifies that a truck moved to the lot by hand is no accomplishment of the robot, and will still be considered to be in Base, just as if it were instead moved to a box off the table.

I think the team's plan was to bring the truck back to base, remove the barrels from the truck, then place the truck (by hand) in the parking lot. Would this give them points for the barrels in the base + credit for having the truck in the parking lot?

half: They'd get credit for the barrels being in Base, since the robot did that, but then the ROBOT would have to take the extra step of pushing the truck into the lot.

The other scenario was to retrieve the truck to base, remove the barrels, then at a later point, have the robot pass through base, and push the empty truck into the parking lot.

That's allowable.

2. If, when delivering the car to the white property, the car doesn't make it all the way in, and some of the car is on the water, but still touching the white area, is this OK? I assume this is OK because the car is still touching the white area, no matter that some of it is in the water.

By Rule 12 and the fact that the scoring condition is "TO," as long as any part of the car breaks into the airspace above the target, the kids are all set.

3. If the coal car falls off the track when it hits the bumpers, do we assume it's then a stray object, and can be removed by the refs, or can the student still take it to the base by hand?


I referenced the Q&A in my answer to this one, which talked about the coal falling out, but we are wondering what happens to the car if it falls off the track. I would assume it's then a stray object, along with the coal, and they would get no points for that mission. Am I correct?

You got it right!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

FLL 2007 Registration Cost

The info about the expenses is explained on the registration web site:

Here is my estimate:

FLL Team Registration (Required): Can. $235
FLL 2007 Field Set Up Kit: Can. $78
FLL Robot Set (NXT): Can. $435

TOTAL: $748+tax($104.72)=$852.72

I am not happy about the increased costs, but there seems little we can do about it. It is relatively inexpensive when you compare it to other robotics competitions, but that does not make it any easier for public schools where money is not always available. I fear the smaller and more rural schools will have great difficulty coming up with the money for this.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Registration for FLL 2007: Power Puzzle

FLL Participants in Newfoundland and Labrador:

Registration for this season's First Lego League (FLL) has been open since May 1st. Please visit the site and register for this year's competition. The theme this year is Power Puzzle.

FLL Registration:

The web site has good information about FLL and the registration process. Please register as soon as possible to avoid any problems with the shipment of materials. Registration will close between mid-late September.

If you have any questions, please contact me.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

NXT training for Eastern School District

I will be holding a training session on NXT Mindstorms on June 12th, 2007 for the Eastern School District of Newfoundland and and Labrador. Those teachers interested are asked to register on the district's professional development calendar.