Thursday, November 5, 2009

First Lego League Update

This semester at our homeschool co-op, Dan and I are coaching a First LEGO League team. We've been coaching and hosting a Junior First LEGO League team for several years now, but have been unsuccessful getting an FLL team off the ground. It's an expensive endeavor because a new team needs just under $1000 to get started. You have to have the robot kit and the registration kit which is about half of that cost. We have two corporate sponsors- one which paid for the LEGO NXT kit and the other is paying for the kids tshirts.

I approached our co-op committee (of which I am a member) about allowing the team to operate through co-op. The kids paid a $30 fee to join the class which allowed us to pay for our registration materials including the mat you see below and all the models built on it among other things like a sweet coaches guide! We also had to ask for $15 more to cover the cost of the actual event registration. That one was unexpected, but we have learned as we go. The parents have been very patient with us as we get this first team off the ground.

We are hoping to field another team next year and since we can begin solicitation for sponsors sooner and we already have the NXT kit, we are hoping to make the class fee less next year. The competition is on November 15th and the kid are excited. We have a team of 10 enthusiastic boys ready to rumble with their robot at an FLL event! Now we just need to get them finished with preparing their robot!

Dan's lab is one of the corporate sponsors and he spent the day Tuesday building a competition table for the team. Here they are trying out their first run of the robot after programming it to run the length of the table. Success!

A second run revealed some wobbly wheels so here E11 is working to fix this problem.
We have about 5 more practices before the big day. We are hoping the team will get the robot to perform several of the many challenges. The challenge is to get the robot to perform missions on the board that involve the models on the board. Once you hit start, the robot is on its own until is comes back to base at which time you can hit the menu to start a new program and get another mission done. The idea is to get as many points as you can by completing the missions well.

We hope this experience will be exciting enough for the most interested students to return next season. Then we'll hold an FLL class in the spring for them to just try different things with the robot. In April the new theme is announced and we can begin researching the topic waiting for the challenge to be released in September.

As for the Junior teams, I'm coaching two this year as a co-op class and the main event will be in January. Dan runs that event at the university where he works and it's a fun day for everyone.

First LEGO League....First LEGO League...First LEGO League!!!


Ticia said...

I can't wait to hear more. I SO want to do this with my kids when they get older. Just have to find some other families to do this with us.

charannjan said...

Sounds fun! I am managing a Lego Club with the hopes the kids decide to go FLL at summers end. We are looking for an old challenge mat and accessories to see just what we are getting into. Would be a good fundraiser for your team. Willing to sell?