LES Robotics Compete!

Hello Robot-Followers!

Our two 4th-5th Grade First Lego League Teams went to their first competition this past Saturday! It was a total whirlwind from August 24th when we had our first meeting! For 12 weeks our kids worked hard at finding a solution to their real world problem (Animal Allies this year), learning and demonstrating the Core Values, and completing as many challenges in the Robot Game as possible!

The day started off with a 6.45 am departure from Lyons(!) for a 7.30-8 am check in at our locations (One team went to Monarch High school in Louisville, the other to Poudre High school in Ft Collins). We found our locations in the “Pit” which is where all the teams interact and set up. There we were greeted by other teams, practicing their Coopertion Core values, some coming up to compliment us on our tee shirts, other offer to help in any way we needed it. Off to the 7.45 coaches meeting for me while parents were dropping off and all the great parents that offered to help out were there getting us settled.

At 9 am we started our Judging Sessions. The first session, Core Values, gave the kids a challenge to solve as a team. During that challenge (build a boat out of a few straws, a bottle cap and a couple of balloons to float as many pennies as possible) they were judged not the solution, but how they worked as a team to get there! Then they were interviewed about how they demonstrated core values. Laura said one of her most memorable moments was when the judge asked what our coaches did (Core value: The kids do the work!), the kids started to say “Nothing” but felt like that wasn’t the right answer so they came up with things we did to help them. 30 minutes later our kids did their presentation on their Project (Helping Penguins in zoos to have a more engaging environment for Team Gummy Bears) and answered more questions. Then off to the third session where they demonstrated their robot to the judges, including explaining their design process and coding.

Then we went back to the Pit where the kids took turns on the practice table. That’s when things started to go sideways! Team gummy bear’s programs weren’t working, and I believe something similar happened to Team piggies. The kids handled it super well, and within a ½ hour that had tuned it all back up and we were ready for our 2 practice rounds. Gummy Bear nailed the 2 challenges they choose on the practice rounds and were 8th in our group! They kids had 2 challenges, collect the big back to bases and place the shark tank in a square without tipping it over.

After lunch we did our first Round on the Robot Game. The score is the highest of the three rounds. The first round went well, but the shark tipped over, and we only got part of our points. On the 2nd round it was a real nail biter, with Andrew needing to repeatedly run the robot to get the pig, which it finally accomplished, and they earned their highest points! Before the final Round Emma and Davis went back to the practice table to trying to get one more challenge, driving over the gate. They were able to program it up and with 5 minutes to spare, it was back for their final round. They nailed the first two, and had time to try their new challenge! First try, it got stuck on a barrack, -6 points touch penalty. 2nd try, stuck again! -6 again! Final try, over the gate, YES! But… no… it’ didn’t clear the gate, no extra points. Great try though!

Out of the 40 teams, they scored 14th in the robot challenge! Top 9 teams on the total score, including judged rounds, go to state. We don’t know how we did from a place standpoint on the judged rounds, although we did get our comments back. And remember, we are competing against seasoned teams, from 4th through 8th grade!

Then we listened to a presentation from Greenwood Animal Rescue (right down the street from here!) and the awards ceremony, where there were some tears as it’s hard putting in so much work, and not winning a medal. But, again, Rookie season, the kids accomplished all their goals the set for themselves, and it was a HUGE day, so we were all fried!

The teams worked so hard over the last 12 weeks, and our four coaches are SO PROUD at how well they did! Our debrief session clearly showed that all the kids had a great season and are ready for more! We will work on the future as the weeks come, but for now we have 2 more session left (Nov. 29th, Dec 6th) were we will be working on more programming and robot challenges, trying to work sensors in to their skill set. Then in January we wills start back up, working on more robot skills, teamwork and even starting early research on the new challenge teaser they release in February!

I want to especially thank Jonathan and Adam for coaching Team Piggies, and Laura, my co-coach for Team Gummy Bears, thank you so much for stepping up and taking on this HUGE task! Laura and Adam are volunteers from our community, they don’t even have a kid on the teams!

I also want to thank all the parents, who ever week came in and learned how to set up the table, get our models up and running, collect the robot kits, computer, and everything we needed, and then helped take it all down and put it away again at the end of every session! We needed your help and I am so thankful you were willing to pitch in! It was so gratifying to see everyone jumping in to help! Team work!

Wow, that was a long trip report!

Tom Delker

Laura Buster

Jonathan Dugan

Adam Mitchell