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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.