Tuesday, September 30, 2008

FIRST FLL Practice

I had my first team practice this week for all the students in our FLL program. We have 30 students participating this year over 2 days (15 students a day). Our students range in age from grade 3 to grade 7 with two High School mentors/assistant coaches. We purchased two field set up kits so we could display one as a real life model and the kids could build the second one.

We are having the advanced team (those with prior FLL team experience) meet on Wednesdays and the rookies meet on Thursdays. We had the same lesson plan for both groups this first session.

Here's how Session 1 went (duration 1 1/2 hours):

Arrival/Warm-up Activity
Build your name out of LEGO & share your name, what grade your in, and experience with LEGO, Robotics, and FLL.

This group is already showing teamwork
by building their names as a crossword puzzle

Showed FLL video (to rookie team)

Shared & Discussed FLL Values

Climate Connections Theme Overview
Reviewed our 3 challenges as a team - what we have to accomplish this season:
1 - Robot Game
2 - Research Project (just stated what it is - we did not get into details - we will leave that for a later practice)
3 - Technical Presentation

Reviewed Missions on Field Set up Table
Our High School mentors took turns explaining each mission and took questions.

Both groups (rookie and advanced had lots of questions and ideas for strategies).

We used the scoring worksheet from TechBrick.com as a guide.

Sorting LEGO Bricks
We split the students up into 4 groups to sort the mission model LEGO bricks

Building Mission Models
We divided the students into pairs or triads to build the mission models, giving the advanced builders the more advanced projects. The advanced team completed about 3/4 of the mission models (minus 5 models - the interactive model, the ice core, the elevation house, the core drilling model, and the storm). Those groups that didn't finish left a post-it on the step they last completed as a marker for the next team to start from.

Clean up
This year with a motivated team clean up is a breeze. In years past I used to give prizes (like a pencil or some SMARTIES) for the best cleaners (everyone gets something).

Homework/Notes Home
I assigned everyone homework to come up with an idea for a team name (we create one each year to match the theme) and to visit the FLL website to learn more about the missions and research project). I also sent a note home with our practice schedule for the season, a parent contact from, and a call for parent volunteers.

Next week (Week 2)...
We will work on completing the mission models, then will split up the students into paired teams to watch and re-teach the mission videos, and begin research on robot design. We will use NXTLOG, NXTprograms.com, and Domabotics as resources to help us.

Week 3 ideas...
I just re-watched An Inconvenient Truth and will show chapters of it to introduce the research project.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Presentation from FLL Kickoff

It was a great morning at the FLL Kickoff at Polytechnic U in Brooklyn. It was wonderful to see so many coaches and teams come out early on a Saturday.

Here is a link to the handout I gave out:
Now that I have the team, What do I do?

Here's the Power Point Presentation:

Or view the Power Point Presentation on Google Docs:
LEGO Presentation

Enjoy the rest of your weekend and good luck to all of you this season.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

FLL Conference Call about Robot Game Tomorrow (9/18)

I have Parent Night tomorrow so I'll just have to hear the MP3 re-broadcast, but this is a conference call worth dialing in to.

Tomorrow, Thursday, September 18, at 7 pm EST. The FIRST Senior Mentors will be hosting the fourth in a series of important Teleconference calls for FLL Team Coaches on understanding The ROBOT Game. How does the table work? What's a "Homebase?" About Robots, and Rules on Robots, apparatuses, and configurations, the missions & how scoring works.

This call will be hosted by Senior Mentor Steve Cremer and features Mr. Scott Evans, the inventor of the robot game each year. This is a must listen!

All team coaches, especially rookie coaches, are welcome. The call in number is 1-800-503-2899. The 7-digit access code is: "6663906". They will have 150 lines available, so lines are on a first come, first served basis. The call will be recorded and available for replay at: http://www.usfirst.org/community/fll/content.aspx?id=10054.

When you have accessed the conference call line, please put your phone on "mute". Press " *6 " to mute your line so that your background noise will not be heard on the call. When you wish to speak, press " *7 " to un-mute your line.

If your phone has a separate "mute" key, please press that key to mute your microphone at all times except when you wish to speak.

They highly recommend for this call that you set up your PC to view the GAME MISSIONS page while on the call. The link is: http://www.firstlegoleague.org/community/fll/game.aspx

Previous Senior Mentor Teleconferences
Please check and download any previous FLL Coaches phone conferences that you may have missed here: http://www.usfirst.org/community/fll/content.aspx?id=10054

Me and Scott Evans at the FLL World Festival in Atlanta, GA. April, 2007

FLL Kickoff this Saturday (9/20) at Polytechnic U in Brooklyn

This is a great event to attend especially if you are a new coach. I go every year with my co-coahes to see the Robot Game overview and brainstorm strategies and to brainstorm with coaches about the research project. You can bring your teams!

NYC FIRST Lego League Kickoff

Saturday September 20, 2008
9:00 AM-1:15 PM

Polytechnic University
6 MetroTech Center
Brooklyn, NY 11201

Open to all. Kids/teams welcome! Bring a camera or video!


9:00-9:30 AM: Welcome and Introductions
(Pfizer Auditorium)

9:30-10:00 AM: Research Assignment Presentation
(Pfizer Auditorium)
Mark Scharfeshteyn does his usual magic.

10:00-10:45 AM: JFLL Overview - Keith Wynne, Coach PS 58
NYC FLL structure for '08 season
(Pfizer Auditorium)

11:00-12:00 PM: Tips and tricks from veteran coaches for new coaches
(vets invited too)
(Jacobs Academic Building [JAB] - Room 475)

Eric Greene, Coach IS 192Q
Organizing a team

Maureen Reilly, coach at Packer Collegiate Institute
Will talk about resources online for building ideas for the kids and organizing lessons - the flow of the season, "Now that I have the team what do I do?"

Veryl Greene, retired middle school coach, currently robotics Specialist Manhattan OIT
Will give an overview of the kit & the NXT software

Suman Sabastin, Girl Scouts robotics advisor
Team management and scheduling

11:00-12:00 PM: Game Overview (Veteran Teams)
(Rogers Hall [RH] - Room 116)
Led by Richard Wong

12:15-1:15 PM: Game Overview (Rookie Teams)
(Rogers Hall [RH] - Room 116)
Led by Richard Wong

Parking: You can find a spot in the street if you get there early and are willing to walk a bit. South of Atlantic Ave is easier. There is a garage at the Marriott across the street.

Saturday, September 6, 2008


Are you pondering the pros and cons of using the RCX or NXT MINDSTORMS platform for your FLL team? Well some funny folks at ISEK (Iowa State Engineering Kids) made a group of videos that weigh both platforms using the Mac vs PS TV ads as their muse.

Watch and decide which platform you will use...
RCX vs. NXT videos