First Lego LeagueCoaches/Mentor Training Presenter :Johannes de Vriesdevriesj@tut.ac.za
Goalst Provide you with as much information as possible to prepare for the First Lego League season.t Provide pointers on what to expect as a coach.
What is First Lego League?t FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) founded in 1989 with a mission to inspire interest in science and engineering among today’s youth. (www.usfirst.org)t FIRST Lego League started in 1999 as a partnership between FIRST and Lego to provide technology-based activities to kids. (www.firstlegoleague.org)
Coach’s ResponsibilitiesWhat to do and what to expect.
Schedulet 11 of August 2012 – Team registration closes/Last day to register order product (Register on www.fllsa.org)t Set aside a minimum of eight weeks for programming and buildingt Set aside the week before your competition for preparation and testing ONLY
Coach’s Rolest Facilitator to guide the children…t …but not actually do the work.t Help keep the team organized and on track.t Conflict resolver.t Seek out resources and help for the team.t Be enthusiastic and let the team have fun!
Team Specificst A team must be registered with FLL SA to complete. The last day of registration is 11 August, 2012 (or whenever all the available slots are filled).t It is recommended that teams have 7 to 10 members.t There must be at least 1 adult coach.t Age range is 9 to 16 (maximum age limit 1st of January of that year).
Team Dynamicst FLL competitions are a team exercise.t This is not just about building a robot, it is about learning how to work with others - a key life skill.t Make sure everyone on the team feels like they’re included. Include everyone in group discussions and decisions.
Team Rolest Help define team roles by identifying individual team member’s strengths and play to those strengths.t Be mindful of different ages, skill levels, personalities, and gender.
Team Dynamicst Be supportive and enthusiastic.t Provide only constructive criticism, NOT destructive.t There is no faster way to turn a child off to science and engineering then by letting them have a bad experience.t There will be arguments. Act as a mediator to find a compromise.
Team members’ rolest Let the team members do the building, programming, testing, and problem solving.t Let the team go where it wants to go (but still keep them on track towards the final deadline).t Often you learn much more by failing than by getting it right the first time.
SUCCESS You don’t learn from success. You accept success as the natural order of things!
Time Requirementst Recommend 2 to 3 meetings per week.t Longer blocks of time to work are usually more productive (weekends).t TIP! Prepare a schedule of meeting times and make sure the parents of all the team members have the schedule.
Space Requirementst Enough room for the practice table (1.2m x 2.5m) and space to work and build.t Table building instructions are on the FLL site (www.usfirst.org and click on FLL).t A computer (PC or Mac) is needed nearby for the programming. An Internet connection is needed for research and to log on the FLL web site.
Materials Requirementst If team members have more than 1 Lego kit (doesn’t have to be Mindstorms), use them to build prototypes and test ideas in parallel.t However, there is a no limit on the number of Lego pieces (except for motors and sensors).t Always remember the KISS Principle
Engineering Expertiset Coaches do not need extensive technical expertise, but should be willing to acquire basic knowledge about the kit (like programming fundamentals).t It is highly recommended to seek out friends, family, neighbors, etc. with complimentary skillsets to help lead the team.
Contest Rulest Make sure you have read and understood the contest rules (Receive at the launch).t Good Idea to make 1 or 2 team member responsible to study and know all the rules and exceptions.t This will help you better guide the team.
Questions and Answers Check the Q&A website DAILY You will receive: Challenge building instructions Fields setup document Missions Rules The Missions Override the Rules, BUT the Q&A are the Ultimate Authority.
Cost Considerationst R1000 to register a team with a Field Setup Kit (challenge set including mat) Paid to TUTt R200 per tournament registration Paid to TUTt R3100 for Basic robot set (9797) Buy from HOTt R1250 Software NXT-G (2000080) HOTt R250 for a Transformer (8887 Charger) HOTt R1250 for additional parts (9695 Resource set) HOT
Operating Budgett The costs for the FLL Robot set and the Game Table materials are a one-time cost.t An annual budget of about R3000 – R4000 should be adequate to handle all costs other than travel (Registrations, field set-up kit, snacks, team shirts, etc.)
Fundraising Ideast Sponsorship from local companies.t School grants.t Donations from local organizations.t Car washes, bake sales, raffles, etc.
Other Responsibilitiest Point of contact for your team: Cell number and e-mail address when registering team online (if FLL needs to contact you).t Food and snacks.t Transportation.
Books & Resourcest NXT Video Trainer and this courset Creative Projects with Lego Mindstorms by Benjamin Ervint Definitive Guide to Lego Mindstorms by Dave Baumt The Unofficial Guide to Lego Mindstorms Robots by Jonathan Knudsent Lego Mindstorms Idea Book by Joe Nagatat Lego Mindstorms for Dummies by Michael Meadhrat Extreme Mindstorms by Dave Baum et. al.
Project Sequencet Figure out which kids want to focus on what parts of the activity and let them start thinking about what they want to do – not much structure since everyone will want to do everything.t As long as there is progress being made, don’t force too much structure too soon.
Project Sequencet By the second or third session, the kids will hopefully find their niche and can focus there.t The Research Project can begin right away – students should start researching information on this year’s topic.t Decide on which experts to contact or which team visits to do.
Project Sequencet Prepare for your visits: Let the team compile a list of questions that they would like to ask.t Let the team write the answers to the questions during the visits.t Have a brainstorm session with the team to identify a research problem from the visits/questions and notes.t Brainstorm on all possible ways how this problem can be solved
Project Sequencet Let the team research on the internet and communicate with other FLL (even international) teams on your findings.t Let the team plan on how they will communicate and share their solution back to the communityt Keep track of the team activities and progress (Let some team members update your web blog)
Project Sequencet Let the team decide on how they want to present their research to the judges.t Let the team plan on the layout and presentation of the pit area. (Get volunteers and parents involved)
Robot Preparationt Design small tasks for the robot based on the various sensors. Start with the easy once first (Use volunteers/parents to assist, various resources on internet)t Design tasks for every sensor.t Design tasks to combine all sensors.t Design tasks to test the accuracy and repeatability of the robot.
Robot Preparationt Let the team build different drive systems. Let them compare accuracy, speed and repeatability. Let them compare advantages and disadvantages of each.t Design different types of robot tasks like lifting, grabbing and sweeping. Combine tasks.t Use previous ears challenge sets to practice.
Robot Gamet Get the team to build the challenge missions.t Go for the low hanging fruit. Do the easiest challenge first to make sure you are successful.t It’s a good idea for the software folks to know what sensors they need in place for their program to work – that way the design and construction can make sure the sensors are built in to the final design
Robot Game COMUNICATIONSt It is important for the hardware and software people are in constant communications so they both know what the other is doing!
Robot Gamet Determine which missions can be completed in conjunction with each other so you’re not bringing your robot back to base after each mission.t Add a mission or two at a time as you achieve proficiency with the simpler missions.
Attachments You can change attachments to complete different missions, but, the time to remove one attachment and add another counts toward the time your team has on the field in a given match. A cumbersome attachment can eat up a lot of clock while it is being put on.
Attachments - Rules IMPORTANTThe rules state that you may only bring THREE motors to the table. If it is using two for locomotion, the third motor must be used for ALL attachments!
Some Rules of Thumbt Keep it simple!t Test, test, and test some more.t But, also bear in mind that too much “fiddling” can be harmful.t Don’t let the team get discouraged if their robot doesn’t work the first time. You learn more when you fail. It’s part of the process.
Brainstormingt As a coach, lead brainstorming sessions.t Take 10 or 15 minutes to let the team brainstorm ways to solve the different problems of the challenge.t Do NOT criticize. In brainstorming, there are no bad ideas.t Write everything down. Sometimes an old idea might be the solution you’re looking for.
Time Managementt Set a team schedule. Write down what tasks need to be done.t Set internal deadlines for getting different tasks done.t Revisit and modify the schedule when appropriate. Always keep an eye on the FINAL deadline, though.
Time Managementt If a team runs into trouble, it is usually because they didn’t manage their time well, not because they didn’t have enough time. Kids should have fun but will need to be able to stay focused.
Building Tipst #1 complaint: Robots kept falling apart. Try the “drop test” on your team’s robot.t Use of sensors is a must!t Keep it simple! The more complicated the robot, the more things that can break.
Design Don’t PanicThis is supposed to be fun! As long as the kids are having fun and feel an inspired sense of accomplishment, you’re doing fine.
Design Don’t PanicThe kids will figure out an awful lot of how to accomplish the project for themselves
StrategyThe game field will have a number of missions on it – you don’t need to do them all in one run. You don’t need to do them all, Period! Figure out which ones pay the highest points in the least amount of time and effort and with the greatest reliability. GET THE BIGGEST BANG FOR THE BUCK!
Programming Tipst Brainstorm ways to program different parts of the overall challenge. SAVE THISt Write down the steps of the program in English and go over them before writing the actual program (Pseudocode).t When debugging a problem, it is sometimes helpful to talk through the program step by step. (BE THE ROBOT!)
Move Blocks / Motor Blockst Motor blocks are very simple. They issue a single command to a single motor.t Moving the whole robot with Motor Blocks requires the five blocks: one to turn on each of the motors, one to tell the how long to stay on, then one to turn each of them off.
Move Blocks / Motor Blockst Move blocks are designed to be convenient. Common maneuvers like moving forward for a certain amount of time or a certain number of rotations take only a single block.t The Move block also automatically straightens out your robot’s path if it begins to wander.
Move Blocks / Motor Blockst Programs written with Move blocks take less memory to store on the NXT than the same program written with Motor blocks.
Areas of CompetitionThere are actually five different areas in which teams will be evaluated at the competition: 1-Arena Table Competition 2-Robot Design 3-Project Judging 4-Core values
Arena Competitiont This is the most obvious and is what teams think about when they think of the competition.t Your team’s score will be the HIGHEST score they receive in ANY of the three rounds.
Robot Designt How well can the team’s representatives explain the physical design of the robot – what features does it have, why was one design option chosen oven another, etc.t See your Coaches Manual for the rubrics the judges will be using
Softwaret How well can the team’s representatives explain the software in the robot and how it is programmed – what features does it have, what shortcuts did you use, etc.t Print out your program so it is easier for the judges to see the program.t See your Coaches Manual for the rubrics the judges will be using
Research Presentationt The research presentation has very little to do with the robot, itself.t Information about the details of the presentation and the rules of the presentation are available at the FLL websitet See your Coaches Manual for the rubrics the judges will be using.
Research Presentationt The presentation can be as creative as the kids want to make it; wear costumes, sing a song, use props, perform a skit – the sky’s the limit – just make sure its subject is relevant to the competition theme.t More credit is awarded to teams who involve as many of their members as possible.
Core Valuest How well do they work as a team and display the FIRST values of Gracious Professionalism.t How well do theyt Judges may not interview the teams – they may just walk around the pit and competition areas, taking notes of the teams behaviors.
On Contest Dayt Don’t panic!t Make sure you have a fresh or fully charged battery.t Bring a laptop with the robot’s program in case any last minute modifications need to be made.t Save your programs to a CD or Flash Drive. Lap Tops have a tendency to go South at the most inopportune moments. You can probably borrow a lap top – You can’t borrow your program!
On Contest Dayt Bring all your spare building materials to the competition in well-organized containers.t It is not a bad idea to bring a dry erase board with markers so that ideas for different strategies or design modifications can be sketched out and discussed.t Bring a power strip and/or extension cord
On Contest Dayt Keep your robot in sight or with you at all times – accidents can happen but they’re less likely if your robot isn’t left alone to get bumped by an excited group of hungry kids on their way to get lunch
Finally REMEMBER:t Have Fun!t Irrespective of the score, all of your kids are winners. They win when they compete!