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Nick made a very good point.  For those rookie teams, it’s about finding that balance between the robot game and the project that will work for your team.  Just keep the children in mind.  They are just 9-14 years old kids and will not be able to solve all their missions or come up with the best solution for their research project.

 

If you are a new coach of a rookie team, it can be a very stressful experience especially if it’s the first time you use Lego Mindstorms NXT and try to teach the kids how to write and debug programs at the same time.  The kids are loaded with homework from school, music lessons, sports and other activities.  While meeting one or two times a week over a 2 months period, they can only accomplish so much - just balancing out your expectation for the team.  

 

FIRST’s mission is to get children excited about science and technology.  It’s most important to keep the FLL competition and the tournament FUN!  Don’t let the kids dread the experience and stress out over solving those robot game missions or working on their project. 

 

Focus on the FLL Core Values - “We have fun”.

 

Cheers,

Curt

 

From: First Lego League in Virginia and DC [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Swayne, Dominic - swaynedd
Sent: Thursday, October 07, 2010 2:03 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: [VADCFLL-L] FLL Research project and presentation

 

All,

 

While Curt’s e-mail response about the research project yesterday was very pragmatic [and technically correct] it doesn’t necessarily reflect the ideals of the FLL program……AND…. Emphasize that teams not competing in any of the 4 components won’t be eligible for any of the awards.

 

Often the things we find exciting are mixed with requirements we find mundane - but as professionals we work to achieve balance. 

 

It is important to work with the kids to develop and understand that balance.  The FLL program is designed to help them understand that there are still big gaps in what we know.  There are lots of problems waiting for solutions.  There are also things we think we’ve figured out, but we’re just plain wrong (and don’t know it). 

 

Some kids are really inspired by this revelation of gaps in our knowledge.  Their teachers and parents have always been able to answer their questions so they may assume all questions have answers.  We want and need them to stretch a bit and figure out that we don’t know everything.  Try to get them excited about how they can make a difference.

 

The robot design, build and programming are also important – but in the context of balance. 

 

We want to see all of the area teams at a tournament and competing – or making a serious effort in all 4 components of the program. 

 

Teamwork skills are important and can be developed.  There are a number of resources with example activities that build teamwork skills – a few are below but there are many others:

http://ethemes.missouri.edu/themes/742

http://www.suite101.com/content/team-building-activities-for-kids-a90906

http://www.livestrong.com/teamwork-games/

http://www.firstlegoleague.org/what-is-fll/twocol.aspx?id=251 – several links under “Coaches’ Handbook”

 

Research skills can also be developed.  There are a number of excellent guides, tips and resources under the “Project” section of the team resources page for Body Forward:

http://www.firstlegoleague.org/media/twocol.aspx?id=247

 

The components of the program are related.  Teamwork and research skills should be evident in a team’s robot design presentation and kids should be able to answer questions like - What was your strategy?  How did you decide on a certain design?  What was your development process?  Did you develop a design that failed?  What did you see as constraints?  What creative concepts did you employ?  Did you take an idea from another robot and modify/improve it for this season? 

 

I think there’s a strong relationship between the skills developed in the research project and teamwork development, and those skills required to design and program a great robot. 

 

I encourage everyone to help their team find a balance that works and participate in the program to the fullest extent possible.

 

Nick

 

 

 

From: First Lego League in Virginia and DC [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Curt Tran
Sent: Wednesday, October 06, 2010 11:26 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [VADCFLL-L] FLL Research project and presentation
Importance: High

 

Hi Adam,

 

To answer your question directly, the team doesn’t have to present a research project. 

 

Just sign-up for the tournament and skip the project portion – don’t forget to stop by to tell the judges at your time slot that they will not do the project presentation so the judges don’t wait or send runners to find your team. 

 

Make sure the kids have FUN and enjoy the FLL experience, but don’t forget that there are four  parts to the FLL tournament.  Each part is 25% of the total tournament score, so the maximum you can get is 75% without participating in the project presentation.  In addition, without a project presentation – FLL rules, your team will not qualify for any award (even if they got a perfect 400 at the table on the Robot Game, or top score on Team Work). 

 

The four parts of the competition include:

1)      Robot Game – 1 practice run (doesn’t count), and 3 actual competition runs where the best score count

2)      Project Presentation – 5 minute presentation plus 5 minute Q&A

3)      Robot Design Judging – where the kids will demonstrate their robot to judges on a full competition table

4)      Team Work Judging – where the kids will be judge on how they work together as a team

 

If they skip the project presentation, just make sure they still go to the Robot Design and Team Work portions.  There is no extra effort for these two areas.  Just make sure they print the codes (screen print – paste into a Word file – print from Word, etc.) for the Robot Design and plan for all the kids to take turn talking and run the robot on any of the missions.  In the Team Work judging, the kids will be presented with a challenge (last year challenge – “arrange yourself in any order” – different every year) and have 5 minutes to come up with the answer with 5 minutes for questions by the judges – they either will do well as a TEAM or not!  The Rubrics in the coach hand book outline these judging areas.  And don’t forget to introduce themselves in any judging session while you (the coach) must remain totally silence during their presentation and Q&A.

 

… I know the programming and solving the robot missions are overwhelming for a rookie team, but if you can consider any simple project that they can do, it will complete their FLL experience – and prepare them for next year.  A simple project such as solution for fixing a cut or burn on their finger will be okay – the kids will have a lot of fun presenting a silly solution – i.e. one dress up like a flame, one dress up like a doctor and put toothpaste on a burn, etc.!

 

Cheers,

 

T. (Curt) Tran

Judges Advisor, TJHSST Regional ’09

Mentor Team #5390, Kilmer-I ’09

Mentor Team #8941, Kilmer-II ’09

Coach Team #324, Scitobor ’08

Coach Team #3563, Rabid Llama Lords ’07

 

 

From: First Lego League in Virginia and DC [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Adam Coonin
Sent: Wednesday, October 06, 2010 12:19 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: [VADCFLL-L] FLL Research project and presentation

 

hi, forgive me for a possibly stupid question but.....can our rookie and young team not present a research project at the tournament?  we know we will not win.  We just want to get our feet wet in the FLL and get the kids excited about doing it again next year.

 

Thanks,

 

Adam


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