Thursday, June 21, 2018

FLL - Into Orbit!: Outer Space Issues...


There are many space issues that FIRST LEGO League teams could investigate for the upcoming challenge season.

However, there is one controversial paramount concern and that is the astroid that is coming close to earth's atmosphere, astrophysicist such as Neil deGrasse Tyson (American astrophysicist, author, and science communicator. Since 1996, he has been the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center for Earth and Space in New York City) predicts, 

“On Friday the 13th of April 2029, an asteroid large enough to fill the Rose Bowl as though it were an egg cup, will fly so close to Earth, that it will dip below the altitude of our communication satellites... it's named Apophis, after the Egyptian god of darkness and death. If the trajectory of Apophis at close approach passes within a narrow range of altitudes called the 'keyhole,' the precise influence of Earth's gravity on its orbit will guarantee that seven years later in 2036, on its next time around, the asteroid will hit Earth directly, slamming in the Pacific Ocean between California and Hawaii...If Apophis misses the keyhole in 2029, then, of course, we have nothing to worry about in 2036."


Take a look at what the European Space Agency has be working on about the topic,




Perhaps, an FLL team will come up with a solution...

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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

FLL - FLLJr: FIRST LAUNCH: Resources - LEGO Space books...


Here is some fun stuff to explore...




Also, here are some LEGO Space books:



LEGO City: 3, 2, 1 Blast Off! by Sonia Sander. Scholastic, 2011.
Grades PreK-K



LEGO® Women of NASA: Space Heroes by Hannah Dolan. DK, 2018.
Grades PreK-K



Planets (LEGO Nonfiction): A LEGO Adventure in the Real World
by Penelope Arlon. Scholastic, 2016.
Grades 1-3



Brick by Brick Space: 20+ LEGO Brick Projects That Are Out of This World
by Warren Elsmore. Hachette Books, 2018
Grades 3-7



LEGO Space: Building the future by Peter Reid & Tim Goddard. No Starch Press, 2013.
Grade 5+

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Thursday, May 31, 2018

Book Review: Winning Design:...


Back in 2011, I reviewed a book, Winning Design: Mindstorms NXT Patterns for Fun and Competiton by James Jeffery Trobaugh (Apress publishers). Since then the LEGO Mindstorms EV3 robotics system has come on the scene. So last year Trobaugh published an updated version of his NXT book to feature the EV3 robotic system, Winning Design: Mindstorms EV3 Patterns for Fun and Competiton by James Jeffery Trobaugh (Apress publishers), 2017.

Again the author’s purpose is to help coaches and teams better understand what it takes to successfully compete in the Robot Performance and Technical of the FIRST LEGO League and other LEGO(R) robotics events. He offers insight into what it takes to develop hopefully a winning robot; and what comes across in the book is planning: planning robot design, planning the order of executing the missions, planning in programming.

It is a book for both rookie teams as well as veteran teams. It is one of those “everything you need to know” type of books about building a robot for the FLL tournament (which also can be easily applied to other tournaments). Most of the information presented in the NXT book was easily applied to the EV3. What is different from the NXT book is, of course, it focuses on the EV3 brick, sensors, and programming. 

Coaches/instructors will find the book well organized so they will be able to find the information and advice they need; it is full of helpful tips. The sections on consistent turning, gearing, squaring up, line following/color sensors, and gyro sensors are a must read. There are a lot of pictures/diagrams to go with the explanations. Besides the robot performance, there is a section on the Techincal presentation of the competition.
I’ve been an FLL coach with winning FLL teams for a few years now, and I was able to take note of some of the excellent tips from Winning Design: Mindstorms EV3 Patterns for Fun and Competiton by James Jeffery Trobaugh (Apress publishers), 2017.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2018

FLL - Into Orbit: Scratch Programming for EV3 & FLL???


There's a rumor going around. Will FIRST allow Scratch programming on EV3 bricks at the tournaments? Currently, the only programs allowed are Roblab (RCX) NXT-G, and EV3-G.

Right now (May 2018), Scratch for EV3 is still in the experimental stage...



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Saturday, April 28, 2018

FLL - Hydro Dynamics: Field Model Leftovers...


The Hydro Dynamics FLL (FIRST LEGO League) season has come to an end, now what to do with the Robot Performance field set-up models?

Well, you can:
     1. Keep the models and mat, so that you might revisit those exciting moments of the tournament by running a mock tournament.
     2. Keep certain models that seem to reappear in a similar form each year (loops), so that you may practice during the off-season.
      3. Invent your own scenario, with the models, of an obstacle course.
      4. Dissemble them and add them to your growing collection of elements (there is sometimes a new element that is not found in the LEGO kits).
     5. Or re-mix them for another use, such as...

Converting the Barriers to a Business Card Holder!



Converting the Faucet to a Bank



  

  

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Friday, April 20, 2018

FLL - 2018-19: Revealed...Updated



FIRST LEGO League Jr. teams
you are headed for the MOON for the 2018-19 Challenge!

Registration is now opened for FLLJr - Mission Moon!




Also, at the World Championships in Houston, FIRST LEGO League  
field mat & models were revealed...


See FLL Coaches of NYC facebook page for a video...
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Saturday, April 14, 2018

B2B Lab: SteamPunk-E...


SteamPunk-E is a Steampunk version of Wall-e the robot. Originally, it was to be  powered and programmed  with WeDo 2, but SteamPunk-E turned out to be a little too heavy for the WeDo motors. 

So, the Power Functions system was used…

 



Motors, IR receiver, Rechargeable battery box

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Thursday, April 12, 2018

FLL - Into Orbit: Training...Updated

FIRST LEGO League space engineers start your training...

Start your research:

     NASA - https://www.nasa.gov

     NASA Robotics Alliance Project -  https://robotics.nasa.gov/edu/9-12.php
         (Although this is directed to grades 9-12, 6-8 graders can understand most of the information)

      ESA - https://www.esa.int/ESA


For building inspration, you can download building instructions from past LEGO models. Type in "Space" for the theme.

https://www.lego.com/en-us/service/buildinginstructions/search?initialsearch=7469#?text=

Q-Tip: On "almost" every challenge theme since 2000, there has been a mission that involves retrieving a loop model. On this past year's Hydro Dynamics it was the Pipe Removal. In Mars Mission (2003) it was an Ice Core like the model below:

In recent years another popular mission was to push something to make something rise & stay in position. I believe it first appeared in Body Forward (2010):


There are similar missions in the LEGO Education Space Challenge Set that you could practice.


Veteran teams think about past theme missions, what else could be on this year's theme?


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Saturday, April 7, 2018

FLL - Into Orbit: Trip resources...



Into Orbit!

For those teams in the New York City area or nearby tri-state area here are some trip resources for your teams. Plan a trip to visit theses resources for inspiration...


NYC Center for Aerospace and Applied Mathematics
Address: 220 Henry St, New York, NY 10002
Phone: (212) 608-6164
http://schools.nyc.gov/Academics/Science/SpaceCenter/default.htm

Rose Center for Earth and Space
Address: 175-208 79th Street Central Park West, New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 769-5100
https://www.amnh.org/exhibitions/permanent-exhibitions/rose-center-for-earth-and-space

https://www.amnh.org/content/search?SearchText=robots+in+Space

Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
Address: Pier 86, W 46th St & 12th Ave, New York, NY 10036
Phone: (212) 245-0072
https://www.intrepidmuseum.org

Liberty Science Center
Address: 4636, 222 Jersey City Blvd, Jersey City, NJ 07305
Phone: (201) 200-1000
https://lsc.org

Cradle of Aviation Museum & JetBlue Sky Theater Planetarium 
Address: Cradle of Aviation Museum, Charles Lindbergh Blvd, Garden City, NY 11530
Phone: (516) 572-4111
https://www.cradleofaviation.org

Buehler Challenger & Science Center
Address: 400 Paramus Rd, Paramus, NJ 07652
Phone: (201) 251-8589

http://www.bcsc.org


Note: The New York Hall of Science does not have that much on space exploration.

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Sunday, March 25, 2018

FLL Challenge - 2018-19 - Into Orbit!...



Hey, FIRST LEGO League teams!

The Hydro Dynamics season is almost over and a hint of next season is receiving signals from Outer Space.

Teams prepare to explore the Universe....

If you happen to have the Mission Mars Challenge of 2003

 or 
the LEGO Education Space Challenge Set


or
(now I am dating myself...)



 get them out of storage because the word is we are going… 


                                                                                                                                                             (R) FIRST


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Friday, March 16, 2018

Beyond FLL...



FIRST LEGO League participants are the inventors of today and the future...

Read about these young inventors: 



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Saturday, March 3, 2018

B2B Lab: WeDo 2.0 Motor Blocks...

If you are new to WeDo 2.0, you might need a little clarification on the motor blocks. So this is what they do (according to LEGO Education WeDo 2.0 Programming Blocks by LEGO)

Motor This Way -  Counter Clockwise - Left


Motor That Way -  Clockwise - Right


Motor Off - Stops the motor
Note: 
1. This is from the perspective of looking at the front of the motor as seen on the programming block.
2. The motors are continuously running until the program tells it to stop - Motor Off block.


Motor On For - Motor on for X seconds and then it stops.
Note: 
1. The block does not indicate which direction the motor will turn, so you must place before it a Motor This Way or Motor That Way block depending on which way or that way you want it to turn.
2. If you use the block without indicating which direction you want it to turn, it will turn in the direction that was last used.
3. Weird, at zero-seconds, it actually moves. (See - B2B Lab: Exploring with WeDo 2.0)
Motor Power - Determines the power and speed the motor will turn. Power is in the range of numbers 0-9 that can be combined to make a number larger than 9.




Motor Power
Note: 
1. Zero, of course, is no power.
2. Even though you can put in a large number for the power, it seems that max. is at about 20
3. As power increase so does speed. Plus, the distance the shaft rotates also increases. So if the robot was a vehicle and you increase the power w/o increasing the Wait For, how will it affect the distance traveled? Try it out...


We do know we can have 2 motors connected to 1 Smarthub and they will both be controlled by a single Motor This/That Way or Motor On For block, but you can control them individually. In the LEGO Education WeDo 2.0 Curriculum Pack it shows you how by using the Motor This/That Way (which runs continuously until indicated to stop) block, but you can also use the Motor On For block. Click/Press the block until the Labelling Panel of 6 squares appears above it. Each square has a color assigned to it for each motor - up to 6 motors. Tap the Labelling Panel to change the color and assign that motor on the particular Smarthub. 


Now, we can take it a step further, you can individually select up to 6 motors on the 3 Smarthubs paired with (connected) and programmed by one program string or parallel program strings from one device (tablet/computer). You can select which motors to control on which Smarthubs, as well as assign different power levels the same way with Motor Power blocks, but remember an unselected Motor Power block or unselected Motor This/That Way or Motor On For block will control all motors at that point in the program. 

However, multiple sensors cannot be "selected" (if a sensor on one Smarthub detects, then the response causes all Smarthubs to respond and this is where motor selection can be helpful to control which motors you want to respond. Sound and displays are through the device so it happens exactly where it is in the program string. Imagine, you can turn on and off any motor on any Smarthub in your project - Awesomeness! 



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Saturday, February 24, 2018

B2B Lab: WeDo 2.0 Parallel Coding...



Here's Danny's first WeDo 2.0 car... 

To run his car, instead of just adding programming blocks in one line of code, he actually used three lines of code - parallel coding. If he had put all of it in one line of code, the vehicle would pause while waiting for, let's say play sound, to finish executing before continuing to move. Now, in the LEGO Education WeDo 2.0 Curriculum Pack parallel coding can be done by using the Send Message, and Start On Message blocks. However, Daniel had not learned those blocks yet, so he invented his own way of doing parallel coding.

By doing this he was able to have the vehicle perform 3 functions at the same time - in this case: movement, color change, & sound. Cool!



To run the above 3 Loop programs, use three finger to tap on all 3 Start blocks at the same time or quickly tap on each Start on each.


Another way of parallel coding is to use the Message blocks:

If you like a little challenge, you can also write a code that has WAIT for Time at the beginning of the programs so that you have time to tap each Start individually. The program below is without Loops so it will run just once. The challenge is getting all to start and end at the same time - test your programming skills!


There are various ways of coding, explore the possiblilites...

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