Friday, December 11, 2009
Everyone needs to work on a banner idea for the newsroom’s logo—WRSN (the Robo Squad Network) that may also reflect our t-shirts.
We will be interviewing experts for our news broadcast. Come up with questions and answers so you can explain the process.
Marshall is the news reporter.
Brian will be the scuba diver who discovers the TDUs littering the bottom of the ocean
Feras will be the expert on transforming the TDu into a torpedo.
Jeffrey is the expert on homing devices—pingers, echolocation, etc
Patrick is the expert on robot submarines.
Michael will be the expert on the recycling that will be done once the trash is brought back to shore.
Sidhanth—we want to interrupt the news broadcast with a commercial. We were thinking of having an ad for the Lego submarine. Can you come up with a 30-second commercial
For this Saturday, we’re working on our science board. Come up with pictures of the failed ideas—cannons launching children into windows. Ramps going to the roof. Etc.
Also, Yasmeen, you need to draw the idea of the curved dropoff zone in front of the school. Maybe download a photo of the school and put you rpicutre over it.
Sharon needs to type out the petition and expand its content—where the crossing guard should be etc. Then we can use that to have people sign it—maybe at the next PA meeting.
Write out some ideas for how to act out the different scenes. How will you portray the chaotic morning, the failed ideas, the calm, peaceful morning?
Stuff to think about and work on till our next meeting. I have the list of questions you all came up with for the retired Navy man we met on the Growler. I will send them off today.
For the presentation, I think you all liked the idea of making it a news report. The reporter tells the audience about submarines and the terrible pollution that they’re causing my dumping their trash on the ocean floor.
You need to figure out a way to show that dumping. If you want to be submarines and TDUs and act it out, that’s great. Can anyone think of another way to demonstrate the problem?
Return to reporter who maybe interviews some experts on how to fix the problem. Interviews a torpedo specialist who shows how to turn the TDUs into torpedoes (again are some of you acting this out in the background?) Interview a robotics specialist who talks about making robotic subs to pick up the trash cans, maybe involved an interview with someone who knows all about tracking devices that can be put into the TDUs.
Think of other people who can be interviewed for this news spot. Perhaps one of you can be an environmentalist who saw a submarine dumping its trash. Be creative.
Write down your ideas and some dialogue. Come up with ways to show what the reporter is talking about. Do you want to build Lego submarines so you use those for a demonstration?
Happy Thanksgiving and I’ll see you all on December 5.
Attached is Rachel’s first attempt at writing a script for A Chaotic Morning. I think it’s a fantastic start and can’t wait to see how you all develop it.
We also talked about using a three-panel science board depicting A Chaotic Morning in the first panel, ideas we trashed in the second panel, and A Calm Morning solution in the third. You should be circulating you petition for another guard to your schoolmates and then we’ll get Reva to sign it (I checked with Miss Ellen and she thinks it’s a great idea).
The roles in the play we talked about are:
Yasmeen- traffic guard
6th Graders- Henry & Rachel
Kindergarteners- Andrew and Victor
Drivers- Sharon and James
So you need to think about props. How are we going to demonstrate the drivers? Are the roles the right ones or should we trade some out?
The solutions you liked were making a circular driveway in front of the building, having 6th graders meet the cars at the curb to bring in the children (maybe we can make a no-parking zone all along Juno so there won’t be any double parkers, the extra crossing guard to help guide traffic and report misparked cars.
Think on this and come up with your own scenes and dialog.
Also think about music that can be played during each scene you talk about.
Gobble, gobble, and see you all on the 5th
Friday, November 20, 2009
One team had a huge robot that broke off at different part of the missions.
another team had a very small and compact robot that efficiently moved from mission to mission:
Both teams scored the full 400 points.
Next we watched the official mission video. and familiarized ourselves with every detail of the missions, and fully understand the different ways of scoring the points.
The kids were broken up into groups of 2-3 kids, and each group will be working on building their own robot.
The kids should start thinking about the shape of their robot. Sketch it out in their notebook.
How are they going to get the loops? scoop it up with a shovel? pick it up one by one with a hook? or store it in a basket on the robot? catch it with a net, then drag it back?
Map out the sequence and route of their mission, what is the order of the missions that they are going to do. which route are they going to take? under the bridge? over the bridge? take the long route along the edge?
If they want to go under the bridge, how high can the robot be?
These are all factors that will help or limit the design of their base robot.
Three Questions they need to answer:
1 - How many wheels will my robot have? 2 wheels? 3 wheels or 4 wheels? treads?
2 - How will my robot cross the double barrel barrier? Run over it? go around it? bypass it, and cross at the wall?
3 - Where is my robot going to end at?
At the Target?
On the yellow bridge?
on the red part of the bridge?
*Bring a notebook, so the kids can start documenting their design in their engineering notebook.
In thinking about your solutions, someone thought the angle of the ramp going the roof might be too steep for cars to get up. A solution such as the spiral ramp that encircles the Target mall was suggested.
Another suggestion was a school patrol made of up upper-grade children, who would walk the younger kids no longer eligible for school buses to school. That way, fewer parents would be driving to school and there would be fewer cars to block the streets. Think about organizing these patrols. How would they work? Where would pick up and drop off points be?
Have 6th graders meet the cars on the sidewalks, take the children from the cars into school. That way parents won’t have to leave their cars in no parking zones.
You seem to like the idea of a play. Everybody is supposed to come up with a play concept. Assign character roles. What are you trying to present with the play. Come up with lines of dialog. This will not be accomplished in one weekend but get started and as we meet we can flesh out the roles and the lines.
We can build a model of the school, showing where we want to create ramps.
We can use a science board to outline the suggestions we rejected, such as shooting the children up to the classrooms with cannons.
Someone suggested we present this as a comic strip. Can anyone draw comic strips.
Yasmeen drew a great solution of adding a circular driveway to the front of the school so parents can drive in and drop off to waiting 6th graders.
See you tomorrow and sorry this came so late
For using the robotic subs to find and bring the TDU canisters back to shore, Patrick found that we could put the pingers used in airplane black boxes in the TDUs as location devices.
Sidhanth needs to find out what else besides enemies torpedoes are used for. Are
they used for any kind of underwater investigation?
Jeffrey needs to find out what an airplane’s black box is made from.
Each child need to come up with a two questions for the retired submarine TSU operator we met when we went to visit the Growler.
Come up with a presentation plan. Do you want to do a play? Come up with characters and who would play those characters and what lines they would say.
Do you want to do a game show? What kind of game show. What questions would we ask? Would we ask each other or the judges or both? Come up with sample questions.
See you all tomorrow. And sorry this was late in coming to you
Sunday, November 1, 2009
The second challenge, was to have the robot, start on the black line, and follow the black line all around the room, and stop when the black line ends.
With this exercise, the robot needed to constantly scan the light sensor, and determine if it is detecting a black line or not. If it is on the black line, then turn right, if it is not on black line, then turn left. So the robot will end up going zig zagging along the black line.
Since each robot had a slightly different design on how the light sensor was mounted onto the robot, the children had to use the VIEW function on the robot to do several light value sampling for their robot to find the best value to use for their program. (The light value reading was different for each robot depending on the distance of the light sensor from the floor.)
Programming wise, the kids also learned how to use the Switch block, to control the robot using a conditional statement. And for the advanced team, I further challenged them to try out their robot on our tournament mat and see if they can travel from one end to the other, just by following the black line.
Next week, after finishing with the touch sensor exercises, the kids will be ready to start examining the tournament missions, and strategizing on their tournament robot design, and mission game plan.
We will introduce the Engineering Journals, so the kids can write down their ideas, and strategies in their own engineering journals, which they will use as part of their technical presentation documentation.
Happy Halloween to all!
You kids did awesome the other day. You were poised and self-confident. You listened to what Ellen had to say. I was really impressed with you!
So these are the answers to the question you asked. Also remember that we don’t have a meeting on Saturday, but we will on November 7. I expect a one-minute presentation from each of you on a solution to the traffic problem. Following the Q&A below are the notes from our last meeting and some of the ideas you came up with. Feel free to be as imaginative as possible. If you don’t like any of the solutions that you listed last week, make up a new one. Also, if there is someone in your group who is not on this email list, please forward it on
1. Did she ever save anyone ?
Yes, she pulled a kindergartner out of the way. The girl had listened when her mom said go, but you should always wait to hear Ellen say okay, because Ellen has her eyes on all the cars.
2. Did anyone ever get injured in an accident?
Not at her corner, but on the corner by Loubet Street, where there isn’t a stop sign. A flashing red light means the same as a stop sign. You must come to a full stop and look before proceeding. Flashing yellow means slow down and proceed with caution. A green light means go.
3. Has she seen drunk drivers?
Yes, but not around school.
4. How many cars would she estimate illegally park?
Every day. Too many too count. But lately the police have been out and giving tickets.
5. What do you think are the biggest traffic problems?
When parents go through the stop signs. When parents don’t pay attention to Ellen and start honking at her to hurry up. Her priority is getting the children across the street safely. Parents who double park block the buses from going through, which creates more traffic jams. Parents park in the no parking or no standing zones. No parking means you can’t park and leave your car. You can pull up to quickly drop someone off. No standing means you can’t even pull up. The lane must stay clear. Children should always cross at the corner and never try to cross in the middle of the street between cars. Driver often won’t see you if you dart out from behind a parked car.
6. What improvements can be made?
Get a message to the parents to obey the traffic signs. Not to park or stand where it says you shouldn’t, not to double park and block the traffic lanes. To watch the traffic signs and obey the, To watch out for children crossing. Add more volunteers to take down license plate numbers of people who park illegally. These numbers can be given to the police who can issue summons.
7. Has anyone ever gone through the stop sign?
Yes many times when they get too impatient to wait for Ellen. Sometimes when it’s raining or snowing and they can’t control the car. Or they’re on their cell phones and not paying attention and drive right through.
8. Does she have the right to fine people?
No, but she can take down license plate numbers and give them to the police.
9. How long has she worked there and has she seen traffic increase?
She been there 25 and noticed that as the size of the school population increases, so does the traffic around the school. It’s a dangerous job simply because drivers don’t pay attention to her. She often ahs to leap out of the way of some impatient driver who doesn’t want to wait for her permission to go.
Notes from 10/24/09
PS 144 and the traffic problems surrounding it as seen by the members of Mindstorm Mechanics.
Too many cars are taking their children to school. People over sleep, are lazy, they like to drive so many times people who live within walking distance still drive their children to school
People are leaving their cars in no parking spots. They park illegally and then bring their children (especially kindergartners) into school and then loiter in the halls watching their kids go in or talking to friends, leaving their cars blocking traffic lanes.
People are double parking and blocking traffic.
People park where the buses are supposed to be so the buses can’t get to where they need to be and block the road.
Solutions generated by members of Mindstorm Mechanics
- Build a parking lot or circular drop-off
- Make streets wider and create a drop off lane
- Fine people who park on the sidewalk or park illegally
- Have lunch aides meet the cars to bring in the little kids
- Stagger the drop off times, having the kindergartners coming in either a little early or a little late
- Build a crane with a super magnet to lift and take away the illegally parked cars.
- Build a floor on top of the school and hollow out the first floor so that cars can drive directly into the school to drop off kids
- Dig under the school and put a parking lot there
- Make more entrances for children to go in
- Get more 6th grade volunteers to meet the cars and bring children in
- Build a ramp up to the roof for cars to drive up to for drop off
These are the ideas you have to work with. You need to come to the next meeting with a presentation that fleshes out one of these ideas. You need to be ab;e to strand up and talk to me, Lisa, and your fellow members and say what your idea is, how it will work, and how it will solve the problem.
Last of all,
Have fun. This is your challenge, make the most of it and have fun with it.
(Again, Thanks for the detailed update from Nancy Nisselbaum, our new assistant research Coach)
What I want each of you to do is study these notes and the possible solutions you’ve come up with and prepare a one-minute presentation about one of these solutions. Think about it. Figure out a way to make it work. Some of these ideas are crazy but may be able to be created so don’t think you have to be practical. A presentation means you have to stand up in front of your team members and talk so everyone can hear you without giggling. You need to state the problem and explain how your solution will fix the problem. Don’t limit yourself to the solutions listed here. If as you’re reading this, you come up with another idea that you want to try to work on, go for it.
What we’ve learned:
- Trash travels through the sub and gets put into a unit called a TDU, or trash disposal unit.
- Everything is compressed into a giant can made of galvanized steel.
- This can is jettisoned out of the sub and sinks to the bottom of the ocean
- There are also plastic bags that can be used but they’re better for short voyages as they can start to smell after a few days.
- We’ve determined the problem to be that these cans are littering the bottom of the ocean.
- Make robot submarines to come pick up the cans and bring them to shore to be recycled.
- Have divers go down and make notes as to where the can s are located.
- Equip the cans with a homing device so the robot subs can find them
- Turn the trash cans into torpedoes that get shot out at enemies
- Have the sub collect the cans as it travels back to port
- Put giant mechanical arms on the sub that can be deployed when it’s time to pick up the trash cans
- Turn the cans into an artificial reef for fish and other marine animals
- Turn the garbage into fuel that can be used to power the sub.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Our teams are expanding, we will have a new team member joining us starting next Sat.
Sid is a student at the UN school, and a friend of Patrick from swimming. He will be joining the Robo Squad team.
We also welcome John Lewandowski and his team Planetary Forces. John's team has 3 kids age 8-9, and he welcomes more kids to join his team as well. So if you know of anyone that is interested in joining, it is not too late to join. Have them contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please submit your T-shirt design to Coach Lisa, we hope to finalize the design for each team, and get the T-shirt done by December. We will digitize the team's design, and print them on Iron-on transfer paper that will then be ironed onto the shirts.
Parents if you wish to order additional T-shirts for siblings or yourselves, we will charge $5 per T-shirt. (T-shirt for the team member is free)
Just contact me at email@example.com and give me the size and quantity.
Photographer & Videographer:
Parents, we are looking for volunteer to take photos and/or videos of our meetings and events.
It would be nice to have some photos and videos to post on our blog/websites along with our news updates.
If you are interested, please contact me. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
As always, we thank the FHYAA for letting us use the field house and giving us a home for our Forest Hills Lego Club!
According to the team's research, the trash on the submarine are disposed differently depending on how long the submarine's mission is. On short missions, the trash are bundled up and brought back to port for disposal. But on longer missions, the trash are dumped into the ocean.
Team need to research what the existing submarine communication process is, and if there is any limitation, and further more, if there is room for improvement?
(1) where are the trash being dumped?
(2) Can the trash be re-used and setup as undersea habitat?
The team has decided to visit the Intrepid-Sea Air Museum to see the Growler Submarine.
Suggested date: Election day(11/3) or Veteran's day (11/11)
If we can get 15 people to go, we can get group discount and special tour guide.(need to book it 2 weeks prior to the visit)
Please email email@example.com for your preferred date, and how many people in your party (above the age of 2).
Intrepid-Sea Air Museum
Pier 86 12th Ave. & 46th Street,
New York, NY 10036
(Submitted by Coach Lisa)
Team M&M's has defined their community as their school, and has chosen the traffic around and inside the school to be the challenge issue. They are researching what are some traffic problems around their school (PS144) as well as inside the school (stairways?). Yasmeen is checking with Russell Sage's YCPC group about any pedestrian traffic studies that was done around Forest Hills, and the process of stop sign petitioning.
Observation around PS144:
(1) Pre-K arrival is a main cause of traffic jam in front of the school. (Getting rid of Pre-K kids was not an option)
(2) Parents Double Parking
(3) Parents parking at the NO PARKING ZONE
Next Step-Homework assignment for next week:
(1) Mapping of the stop signs around the school (PS144)
(2) Interview with the school crossing guard and the school's security officer (Coordinated with the help of Nancy Nisselbaum - please remember to video tape the interview)
(3) Research stop sign/school sign petitioning process.
(Update submitted by Coach Lisa)
The NXT is an intelligent, computer-controlled LEGO brick and is the heart of any LEGO MINDSTORMS autonomous robot
The touch sensor enables the robot to feel and react to its environment
The sound sensor enables the robot to hear and react to sound
The light sensor allows the robot to detect light and color
The ultrasonic sensor gives your robot the ability to see, measure distance and react to movement
The servo motors , which can be used for partial angle or continuous rotation, ensure your robot moves with precision.
The kids has been getting familiar with the robots for the last 2 weeks, they now know how to make the robot move by programming its motors's rotation, and how to make it turn by sliding the steering between port B and port C. We also started looking at the different sensors. First off is the ultrasonic sensors that measures the distance. (the eye looking one)
The kids have successfully met the various challenges of making the robot move forward and stop 12" before it hits an obstacle, then it turns around and continue to travel. Then by teaching them the LOOP function, the kids were able to make the robot repeats the same process over and over for X counts or "Forever"(they kids all preferred to choose "Forever").
Next up was the Light sensor. Using the light sensor, mounted in the front and facing down, the kids learned to use the light sensor to measure the reading of the reflected lights coming from the tile or the black tapes that we placed on the ground. They then programmed the robot to stop or follow the line when the light reading is below a certain number.(The number changes depending on how far the light sensor was mounted above the ground)
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Team #1: Mindstorm Mechanics
Team #2: RoboSquad
Coach Lisa has been busy brainstorming with the teams, defining their community, and identifying various mode of transportation.
Coach Iffat has been introducing the new comers with the basic functions of a Mindstorm robot, we worked with the motors moving back and forth, and turning around last week, this week, we started looking at sensors, experimenting with ultrasonic sensors first. The returning members have been exploring some advanced robot construction and programming, starting with a grabbot from our resource book.
Monday, October 5, 2009
I had problem installing the MINDSTORMS NXT 2.0 on Mac OS 10.6 (Snow Leopard), so I did a quick google search and found the solution here:
BLAQmx wrote:To install LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT 1.1 on Mac OS 10.6 (Snow Leopard)
- Copy all files from the MINDSTORMS CD to a folder on your desktop.
- Open that folder and look under "Parts".
- Locate MindstormsUnivEdu.pkg or MindstormsUnivRet.pkg.
- Right-click (control-click) and choose "Show Package Contents".
- Navigate into the Contents » Resources directory and delete the "preflight" file.
- Close this package and run the meta-package (LEGOMindstormsEngRet.mpkg) from the desktop to install MINDSTORMS NXT.To install LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT 2.0 on Mac OS 10.6 (Snow Leopard)
- Copy all files from the MINDSTORMS CD to a folder on your desktop.
- Open that folder and look under "Parts".
- Locate MindstormsUnivEdu.pkg or MindstormsUnivRet.pkg.
- Right-click (control-click) and choose "Show Package Contents".
- Navigate into the Contents/Resources directory and delete the "preflight" file.
- Close this package and run the meta-package from the desktop to install MINDSTORMS NXTPlease let us know if these address all of your questions.Cheers,MarkLabVIEW R&D
Friday, October 2, 2009
In Mindstorm software, goto TOOLS > Update NXT firmware.
Make sure your robot is on and connected.
The firmware that comes with the CD is v1.26, select it, then click DOWNLOAD.
Note: There is a later version that is out v1.28, you can download it from http://legoengineering.com/library/doc_details/250-nxt-firmware-v128.html
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Think of a name best represent your team, bring a few suggestions and we will vote on it!
· Color: Lime Green
· Size: Please fill out the size chart (at the meeting)
· Design: Please bring in your T-shirt design drawn on 8.5 x 11 size paper next time
Please bring in your Hat design drawn on 8.5 x 11 size paper next time. Think of something that is fun and creative, that ties into our team name or the challenge topic (or not).
Think of a cheer that includes your team name, something that rhymes or easy to say
Are you ready?(clap, clap)
Say go team(clap)
Panthers all the way!
Everybody YELL YELL
1. Building Leader:
(Assists others with robot building)
2. Programming Leader:
(Assists others with programming issue, robot design documentation.)
3. Data Manager:
(Responsible for data backup. Setup file naming standard.)
4. Equipment Manager:
(Manages and coordinates robots, building sets, laptops, field table etc.)
(document all events, meetings, announcements onto our website, post meeting minutes onto our blog site.)
6. Research & Presentation Leader:
(Lead the team on the research and project presentation)
7. Team Captain:
(Lead the team, coordinate all meetings, represent the team in dealing with tournament judges,make the final decisions for the team.)
8. Photographer/Videographer (preferably a parent)(Take photograph and/or video for team meetings, outings and tournaments)
Monday, September 28, 2009
- Team 1 - Yasmeen, Olivia, Sharon, Rachel, Henry, James, Andrew, Victor. (8 kids avg age 10-11)
- Team 2 - Feras, Brian, Patrick, Marshall, Michael, Jeffrey (6 kids avg age 8-9)
As soon as the kids saw the Lego kits, they dived in and started to build the game models for the field table. The kids worked in teams and collaborated nicely, helping each other finding the parts, and figuring out mistakes that were buried inside the models. They quickly learned how to identify the Lego parts, read the instruction diagrams, and construct the models in complex 3D geometry.
With the models completed, we are all set to start constructing the robot next week, and hopefully we will get started with some basic programming as well.
The FLL tournament consists of two parts, the Robot Game and the Research Project. We are very lucky to have Dr. Lisa Brody to lead our research project portion, where the kids will explore and research about this year's challenge of "Smart Move".
They will need to do the following:
- Define their community, and various transportation modes in their community.
- Select one transportation mode and further research it by searching the web, taking surveys, talking to specialist, experts in that field, taking field trips etc.
- Propose an innovative solution to the problem
- Share the solution with their community.
- Present the entire project in 5 minutes at the tournament
The Core value of FLL is "Gracious Professionalism". It is more about what you learn through the whole FLL experience than just winning the tournament. The kids will learn critical thinking through programming, apply math and physics through the lego building, practice reading, writing and presentation skills through the research project. and most importantly they will learn how to share, collaborate and work as a team.
We will be picking a team name, team logo and T-shirt design, come up with a team cheers.
There will be job titles assigned to the kids. Each kid will have a chance to pick a job that they love and further develop their leadership skill.
Our next meeting will be Saturday, October 3, 2009 at the Roumie Residence.