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The team from Poolsville HS was having trouble with some servos and programming. We found they were using Java not the Block programming language that FIRST had released this year. It took a lot longer to debug the code. We showed them the Block programming was much easier to use and gets the same end result. We were able to get their servos back up and helped create an autonomous program.
FTC Flamangos once again came to our HQ for some further help on the glyph mechanism and servos. We mainly helped with a blocky program on mastering the continuous rotation REV servos. It was impactful for the member from the team to learn more about the block programing language and its different aspects.
FTC team Flamangos was a former FLL team that we encouraged to graduate to the older league. They have attended several of our training sessions. One of the members came to our HQ to work with us on their drivetrain. We reviewed it and gave the member several tips to improve the mechanism. We also helped them out with their glyph mechanism. We were able to find some fatal flaws that could impair the robot during competition. It was a great learning experience for the FTC team.
Team Brickbotz came to our HQ so we could help them out with their robot. They had recently completed their qualifier, and encountered several issues. Two were that they were having trouble moving straight, and they need to line up to locations using sensors is better manner. We were able to teach them methods to allow straight movement, and educated them on certain sensors. They were very excited in the end and hope we can mentor them over the summer,
Two of our team members went to the KID Museum for our 6th FLL Friday. Although, due to weather conditions, only one team showed up for the event. However, we were able to focus all the volunteers' efforts on the team. We provided them general advice for strategy, and gave them suggestions to help at future competitions.
We first started to get to know the team and its members as it was our first encounter with them. After a group meeting, we split up into two groups to help the team with their project and robot. Although the robot was not stable, it was advanced in other ways. We left them with tips on how to improve the structural integrity of the robot. Also, their project was really advanced and well thought out with lots of research and ideas.
We went to a meeting with Mrs. Abha Chauhan three teams Fiery Phoenixes, Triple A's, and H2O Megabots. We mentored these three teams on the software side of WeDo 2.o because previously, they had a limited amount of knowledge on the subject. We provided tutorials so they could work through learning the software themselves. It was an overall good outcome and we felt that the three teams developed a grasp on the software.
Our team hosted various training sessions at USRA Meet the Field such as Connections and Configurations, Autonomous Programing, Judging and Awards, and Competition Day. We had a very good turnout and felt we reached out to many FTC teams. This event was successful for us. We were able to make an impact on 5-6 different teams from the workshops that we held. This event was also a good event for our team, as we were able to work on our robot and presentation. The one thing that we need to work on is advertisement of our events. We had hoped for a larger turn out, but did not get as many teams as we hoped. Overall, this event was a lot of fun.
This is another one of the FLL Fridays hosted by KID Museum. The goal for this event is to help every team improve in at least one aspect of their robot. We helped various teams with their robots, both hardware and software. We also helped a team with the math of moving distances. This should help them in the long run as they will have a much easier time making new missions. This event was exciting as it was fun to see kids learn and get their missions to work successfully. One thing that we need to improve on is setting up and fixing mission models. Every single FLL Friday there has been one mission that has not worked and we think there might be something wrong with the assembly. We need review the instruction and fix the mission next FLL Friday.
On November 2nd, our team went to the Model Secondary School for the Deaf (MSSD) to present to their new FTC team (Team 13792). We presented our Judging and Awards session, which covers what to expect on competition day and how to prepare for judging. The presentation includes stories about the experiences which most shaped our team, how collaborating with other teams allowed us to learn and grow, and what we did to be successful. This ties in with our mission for our FTC outreach program: to increase collaboration across the FTC community, and focus on paying FTC forward.
We started a club at Watkins Mill Elementary School. This is a Title-One school, with 78% Free and Reduced Meal students, and we want to make robotics accessible to them. At the session, we gave our presentation introducing FLL Jr. We also answered questions about feasibility of this club based on our experience with the club at William B. Gibbs Elementary School
funding. As this was a Title 1 school, they wanted to know what resources were going to be available to them. We let them know that we would be providing WeDo Kits, team meeting guides, and engineering notebooks. We want to wait until March to start the club so that the materials we have given to William B. Gibbs can be used at Watkins Mill Software - WeDo 2.0 is currently not working for William B. Gibbs Elementary School because of restrictions the school system has on downloading apps on chromebooks. The two options were to either wait until the issue was resolved or for the kids to bring in tablets, of which the second was not applicable to Watkins Mill.
I will be going to the HQ of an FLL team called North Star Robotics located in Ashburn Virginia. This team has come to our EV3 training sessions and we mentored this team last year as well. They wanted us to help them out with the robot portion of FLL and practice doing a core values judging session with them.
This went very similar to our previous FLL Friday. 4 teams came to this session. 3 of the teams had come to the previous session 2 weeks ago, so we talked to them about what they had accomplished since then and what they wanted to accomplish today. We also asked them if there was anything they wanted help with. We helped them by showing them easier ways to get to missions on the field and how to make programs more reproducible. The new team that came in wanted help going straight so that they could move easily on the field. We taught them how to use port view. Another thing that we helped with is that a team wasn’t able to use the color sensor, so we taught them how to use it.
The event went off extremely well. Most of King Farm already knew us so they were familiar with our team. Since the first year our team went to the King Farm Fall Festival, there has always been a high turnout of young children, around the ages perfecto for the FLL Jr to FLL range. at the event, people were very intrigued by our robots because of their mecanum and holonomic drivetrain. Both their special wheels, and their ability to move in all directions on a plane was the focal point. Some adults too, wanted to drive our robots. One great reason for our team to attend the Fall Festival is people weren’t just there to learn more about FIRST, they were at our field and table to learn more about our team. Since we are a local team based in King Farm, everybody also wants our team to do well and succeed. Some people took business cards and flyers to follow us on this seasons journey. Because of the fact we are based in King Farm, parents that we spoke to about FIRST were interested in the fact that a team in the same neighborhood could mentor any new teams started.
Once the coaches arrived, we started by giving our kickoff presentation and gave out the registration materials. We talked about the FLL Jr. World Expo lottery. We answered questions coaches had regarding field trips and expos
Talked about the progression of FIRST programs; how FLL Jr. leads into FLL and FTC and shared our experiences in these leagues. The teams are now ready to start their seasons and the coaches were excited about the World Expo opportunity. The coaches asked if we could help schedule a presentation, and an easier way to communicate.
These 3 training sessions were effective as the teams are now able to line follow, catch black lines, use gyro sensors, and create MyBlocks. This training ran smoother than our other trainings because we had expected not to cover all our material, and were prepared for this. The hands-on aspects worked well because the kids were more engaged. In the future, we should do more hands-on activities.
This was be our first event of our FLL Jr. season. We started the kickoff by giving our FLL Jr. kickoff presentation. Then, we gave out the registration materials for the season. We also talked about the FLL Jr. World Expo lottery, and answered questions coaches had regarding field trips and expos. Finally, we spoke about the progression of FIRST programs; how FLL Jr. leads into FLL and FTC.
At the event, we ran through the presentations. We had 64 people attend and we were able to impact 15 teams through these training sessions, most of which were either rookie or second year teams. We received feedback from 12 people to help us improve these trainings, and we also got positive feedback about how useful these sessions were: “I came in with limited knowledge of Block Programming, but I’m leaving more confident about teaching my team. Looking forward to more trainings from the Wizards!” One of the problems we did have was running out of time for the basic training. It took too long so they were not able to get to the autonomous portion. Due to popular demand, we will host another training in November where we can go into more advanced concepts, like using the Inertial Measurement Unit built into the REV Expansion hub.
At the event, we spent time socializing with head FTC MD volunteers, and other FTC teams. We met some teams that we’ve interacted with in the past at competitions, such as Duval Astrotigers and Green Machine Reloaded. We also met some new teams that were excited to work with us, such as Dark Matters. We talked about the game and some differences from previous years were noted. The game is very hard to set up and not having the correct setup could easily mess up our autonomous. The biggest difference this year is that there will only be an 8 second delay between autonomous and teleop. There is no warning for pinning, trapping or blocking which is easy to do in this game. Lastly, every team is required to have an on/off switch that is not built into the modules.
It was amazing to see so many teams that we had seen at our prior training sessions and other outreach events. Two of the teams had come to our EV3 training sessions and we had met Ms. Kaushika Patel, coach of one of the teams, during our project presentation. She had asked about how to get added to the FLL Maryland Slack group. We will have to follow up with her on this. Overall, the event was a lot of fun. We passed along some of our tips from FLL to younger kids and made some suggestions on their next approaches. The next FLL Friday is on October 20th, and we should see if we are able to attend.
Even though there was only 1 attendee, this event was still impactful. Mr. Vijayan was very interested in the information we presented and will be starting a team. He asked for more information about registration. We learned an important lesson that interest does not necessarily translate into action. We plan to send reminder emails to signed up attendees for future events.Our next steps include sending Mr. Vijayan information about registration and our kickoff meeting for coaches on October 15th.
This event was really fun for us because the kids were excited to learn about programming. In the future, we will have to cut down on the amount of material that we cover. Some kids got lost, and took more time than we had thought it would take to get the material, so we should account for this. For our next training session, we will take more time to review the material to make sure that the kids have grasped the concepts before moving on.
This event was impactful for me because it allowed me to help coaches avoid the mistakes that I made when I participated in my first and second years of FLL. It was also a great opportunity to meet people, like Professor G and Barry McGovern, who are the lead volunteers of Maryland FIRST LEGO League. Our relationship with them will help us educate more coaches and students.
Though going on a tour of the laboratory wasn’t necessarily about learning about something for FTC specifically, it was great to learn about a different STEM field. One of the key points that we took away is patience. It takes a very long time to make significant advances in the forefront of hard sciences. Though we have increasingly cutting edge machines, we are still limited by technology from a practical standpoint. For example, the electron microscope that we had the opportunity to see was only put in use five years ago, yet takes ten years to process the data that it collected, so a zebrafish brain hadn’t actually been imaged yet. Another point was that the simpler the organism, the more we can learn about, but as the animal gets increasingly complex, it gets harder. For example, the zebrafish are tiny animals and we can study their entire brains, however we can only attach minimal electrodes for rats. It was awesome to get exposure to this area of this science.
Overall, this event was successful as we accomplished our goals of getting at least 10 people interested in starting an FLL Jr, FLL or FTC team since we got 27 people interested! We had lots of people come by who wanted more information about starting or joining a team! Although we brought our mecanum drive robot, we didn’t bring a battery usable with the REV system, so we ended up using a USRA pushbot that we had brought with us from our last outreach event. We luckily got a robot demonstration up and running. From there, lots of eager kids came by to drive the robot. We hope to attend this annual event next year!