I will say also that our kids also used a basic robot that they found online and then added a bunch of stuff to it to make their missions work.  This year, we have the Ev3 and they chose to make the basic model, but changed a lot of stuff about it to make it more what they wanted.  Technic Legos are really hard to imagine building a whole robot with if you've never built with them or know how the pieces can be used together.  But I think they should definitely do the building...if for nothing else, but not only for the competition, but how can they learn if they don't have the opportunity to do it.

I would also be kind of careful with showing them examples of attachments personally. If they don't have any experience with building, they might mimic your attachments because they're just not sure what else to build or how to build it.  I had our kids watch YouTube videos of past tournaments so they could get examples of different ways other teams did certain missions. many different ways are there to hook a loop? Or carry something somewhere?  They loved watching last years videos and seeing how many different ways there were to do the same missions that they did...and all the ways they had never thought of.

If they are new to this, then you have the fun of watching them learn.  I wouldn't make it so hard (building a robot from scratch with no directions), but I would be careful not to take away any of the learning and experience.

Good luck!!

On Monday, September 15, 2014 2:23 PM, Frank Levine <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

Thanks All,
  This definitely jives with the approach that I'm taking.  I think I've taken a reasonable middle-ground for a team of inexperienced 4th graders.  I did show them the robot that I built and explained how I incorporated some of the design principles that we've been talking about into the design (Compact, low center of gravity, modular attachment areas, etc).  I also built a few simple attachments (forklifts and arms that use the worm gears) to show them how different gear boxes work (worm gears, fork lifts, and how to change the direction of rotation), and what 'modular attachments' are.  I also pointed out the things that I would change or attempt to fix.
  At that point I told them that they are not allowed to use my robot, nor are they allowed to build a duplicate.  They need to design their own robot, but they are free to examine how I did things and study how the attachments work.  Kids learn in different ways, so I figured that having a concrete thing to look at and touch might help, especially with some of the gearboxes.  Watching the first build session was a complete chaos, but by the end they had settled on a reasonably stable base, and it wasn't exactly like mine.  We made a list of the things that we still need (color sensors, attachment ports) and we'll work on that next week.  
  I don't think that I have crossed any 'kids to the work' lines, since everything that I built is being used for examples only.  I'm trying to balance between teaching them, but not telling them how to do it.  It's a fine line, which is why I posed the question.  I'll stick to my plan of letting them look, but not copy.

Thanks again for the replies,
Frank Levine

On Mon, Sep 15, 2014 at 1:32 PM, Darlene Pantaleo <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
I would like to chime in on this one. When judges ask questions, only the kids can answer. It is very obvious when they don’t really know what or why this or that concerning their robot. They need to understand not only how they built it, but why they decided to use this type of appendage or that type of drive train.

Might I suggest that you help by showing videos and/or explaining how gearing and different drive trains work so that they can make the necessary decisions.


On Sep 15, 2014, at 1:27 PM, Phil Smith III <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

Well said, Curt, on many levels! And entirely correct about how judging works.
Coaches in football don’t run plays: they suggest things, but the players have to make it happen. Same with FLL. And the “suggesting” should be just that—not “OK, now put THIS piece in THERE facing THAT way…”.
Phil Smith III
Coach, The Capital Girls (retired)
Team 1900 (2002)
Team 2497 (2003)
Team 2355 (2004)
Team 1945 (2005)
From: First Lego League in Virginia and DC [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Curt Tran
Sent: Monday, September 15, 2014 1:20 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [VADCFLL-L] Robot Design for Rookies
Hi Frank,
Heather and Fredrik have made some very good points.  If you are looking for a judge’s perspective, the team would be disqualified for awards during either the core value or robotic design session when they mentioned that the coach build the robot (even the base robot).  Heather has pointed out a key rule that "kids do the work".  The judges take it very seriously.
Fredrik has given the best advice in that they should be able to build the basic robot using the instruction that comes with the kit.  If too many kids cannot decide on the base robot (too many cooks in the kitchen), just assign it to one or two of the kids to accomplish this task.  It doesn’t have to be the super robot design to win at the robot games.  It is all about the attachments and the programs to solve the missions.  You can definitely help them to debug the programs, pointing out what wrong with their robot design and attachments.  You can definitely show them how to write the point turn and swing turn programs, and they can put it together themselves on how to accomplish a mission.  You can show them how the robot arms are put together, and how a forklift work by simply using a plastic fork.  Kids are creative and they will fit the pieces of the puzzle together.  We want them to experiments and find out for themselves what work and what not. 
Just take a look at those kids from Scitobor and Kilmer.  It was not until their third year that they made it to State, and even at State they made mistakes of running too many missions that would not fit into the 2.5 minute time window.  It was okay since they have learned a lot from FLL.  Some of the kids in those early FLL days are now in MIT, Harvard, etc.  It’s good for the kids to make mistakes at this early stage, learn from it, and excel.
Please remember “What we discover is more important that what we win.

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