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First Lego League in Virginia and DC


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Scott Rakestraw <[log in to unmask]>
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Scott Rakestraw <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 18 Oct 2013 10:36:58 -0400
text/plain (106 lines)

I don't have an answer to your question since every team is unique and
different but I can share what works for my girls team.  To get my teams to
try and learn new things, I borrowed from Boy Scouts and Girls Scouts.
These organizations have been developing youth for over 100 years and have
effective techniques.  Both organizations use badges to encourage and reward
developing new skills.  I leveraged this technique and developed over 30
different robotics badges.  Each badge has requirements and in some cases
links to our summer workshop, starting point posters, team notebook and
robot challenges.  For example, here are the requirements for earning the
line following badge.  Note, we have a line following poster and other
reference material available.

1. Discuss the following with your coach:
	a. What is line following?
	b. How does line following work?
	c. What are three types of line following?
	d. What do you need to consider when placing light sensors?
	e. Why calibrate a light sensor?
	f. Why use line following?
2. Calibrate a light sensor.
3. Do one of the following:
	a. Option 1: Complete the Mr. T Challenge (page 7 in program section
of team notebook).
	b. Option 2: Program a robot to follow a line.
	c. Option 3: Program a robot to follow a curved line.
4. Explain the line following program you created in requirement 3 to your

As the team earns badges, they stick them on their team notebook.  The
badges are not just focused on robot design, they encompass all aspects of
FLL.  As the coach, I award the badges once the requirements are met with
the exception of the Team Spirit and Supporter Badges.  These badges can be
award by other team members and there is no limit to how many you can earn.
In my experience, I have found the badges to be a great technic for
motivating learning and developing advanced programming skills. Once my team
members understand a technic or skill, they figure out how to apply it to

To supplement the badges, we leverage the EDGE Method from Boy Scouts
(Education, Demonstrate, Guide and Enable).  Using the line following
example, we have a line following starting point poster that may be
beneficial for your team.  

All the badges and supporting material are available for free on my blog,  I use 1 1/2 inch circle labels printed on a color
printer.   The specific blog post on this approach is at  

I hate to admit it but we also use candy.  We have a candy drawer and when
the team completes a challenge or makes progress, they get to pick from the
candy drawer.  It is a great motivator.  

Scott Rakestraw
Capital Girls and Code Crackers Coach

-----Original Message-----
From: First Lego League in Virginia and DC
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Jennifer Armstrong
Sent: Thursday, October 17, 2013 11:39 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: [VADCFLL-L] Wise coaching

I am wondering the best coaching method.  I could ramble on about "on the
other hand" quite a bit, but I'll try to keep it short.  How do you motivate

I coach and I have an engineer mentor helping out.  This is our third year,
and his opinion all season has been if the kids want to accomplish a lot,
they have the ability to look things up for themselves.  They are all over
12 years old except one.  I concurred, but now that we're getting close to
the end, I'm rethinking.  

My boys want to use only move blocks.  As this may be our last year, I'd
like to branch out and use a sensor (light).  They are sure that move blocks
using rotations are the best.  Ideally I would like to run tests to gauge
both, but I can't make the light sensor work myself.  And there's not much

Should I force the issue and make them stretch giving them the final say,
or do I let them do the same old thing?  Do we waste lots of time angling
and adjusting degrees, or do we plow through until we learn how to make the
sensor work going on my word that it will be more accurate?  

I know it's supposed to be team driven, the kids do the work, but is there
a way to challenge them and it still be fun?  They seem to be in a rut.



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