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October 2011

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From:
VA/DC Referee Advisor <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
VA/DC Referee Advisor <[log in to unmask]>
Date:
Sat, 8 Oct 2011 22:40:52 -0400
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The LEGO MINDSTORMS software is the graphical software (like NXT-G)
used to program the older RCX brick.  LEGO doesn't support it any more
for programming the NXT brick.

I hadn't realized that you could program the NXT directly until I read
your message.  According to Wikipedia, "Very simple programs can be
created using the menu on the NXT Intelligent Brick."  So your team
might be limiting what it can do if it exclusively programs directly
on the NXT, instead of also using a software package like NXT-G.

For the Robot Game, it is possible to read Rule 4 as limiting
"external software programming tools", and not addressing using the
built-in capability of the NXT brick.  So, I'll apply Benefit of the
Doubt and say that it is okay to program directly on the brick for all
or some of the robot's programs.

I'll have to defer to the VA/DC Judge Advisors for their advice on
what the Robot Design judges will accept.
When I look at the Robot Design rubric
(http://firstlegoleague.org/sites/default/files/Challenge/FoodFactor/Combined_Rubrics_FINAL.pdf),
 I can guess how direct programming might affect judging:

  - Programming Quality:  would not necessarily have an effect  (I
assume that if direct programming is sufficient to meet the needs of
the team, then the results would be similar if other tools were used
for programming)
  - Programming Efficiency:  would not necessarily have an effect (I
assume that the resulting code is fairly simple and easy to
understand)
  - Automation/Navigation:  likely could have an effect  (I assume
that direct programming limits how easily/well the team can use
different sensors--but I might be wrong)
  - Design Process:  likely could have an effect (I assume that it is
harder to revise the design than it would be by using a software
programming tool)

My final comment--our FLL Core Values emphasize "What we discover...".
 If a team member were to be asked by a judge why he/she used direct
programming instead of a software programming tool, and was able to
give a short explanation and justification of why that method was
better than the other, then I'd be satisfied that our FLL goals were
being met--the team made its own choice based on engineering and/or
design principles, without worrying about whether it was "what
everyone else does."  What could be better than that?

Steve Scherr
VA/DC FLL Referee Advisor

On Sat, Oct 8, 2011 at 12:19 PM, Heather Dyson <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Hi Everyone,
>
> One of my kids likes programming directly on the NXT brick. I had thought
> that the kids were only supposed to use the RoboLab or NXT-G software and I
> checked the rule again and saw LEGO MINDSTORMS on there too. What is the
> LEGO MINDSTORMS software? Is that the software on the NXT brick? So
> basically I want to know if it would be okay to program on the brick.
>
> Thanks!
> Heather
>

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