Monday, November 5, 2012

FLL - Senior Solutions: Color Sensor & Field Mat...

In my post about the new field mat (Oct. 18), I might have spoken too soon. I am getting emails about how kids are having trouble sensing the green line on the mat with the RGB Color sensor. There seems to be no problem sensing the green bottle, but sometimes the green line on the mat is not picked up or a black line is sensed for the green. The White and the Black lines seem to work perfectly fine.

So I am working on several programs to see exactly where the problem is. If anyone has some information as to a solution. Please feel free to send a comment.


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Book Review: The Unofficial LEGO Builder’s Guide...

When the 1st edition (2005) of The Unofficial LEGO Builder’s Guide by Allen Bedford was released it was the “must have” guide to LEGO building.  The LEGO fans, of all ages, found a reference book of the practices of LEGO building; they could now understand the principles behind the kit instructions and take that step into freestyle building. The book teaches LEGO fans how to choose and use the various building elements in different ways so that LEGO builders can maximize their creativity and build models that are sturdy. However, something was missing from this wonderful book...... COLOR!

Well LEGO builders, the new The Unofficial LEGO Builder’s Guide, 2nd edition is now in COLOR! This updated version of the book is more condensed; it gets right to the point, which is great, because we LEGO builders would rather be building.

Curious though, three chapters were eliminated in this edition, Technic: Not As Technical As It May Seem; Sorting, Storage, and Sitting Down to Build Something; Making and Using Tools For LEGO Projects. The chapter on Storing... yes, it could be eliminated because LEGO builders find their own personal way of sorting, storing, and how they start to build. However, I think the chapter on Making and Using Tools... would have been valuable for the neophyte LEGO builder, and it had tips for some intermediate LEGO builders as well. The chapter on Technic... and the technic elements that were eliminated in the Brickopedia, I also feel should not have been eliminated, because LEGO builders today are making use of Technic elements with the traditional elements to create amazing models. Perhaps, it was a “cost” decision (color production is expensive), but I believe LEGO fans would have paid the extra cost to have these two chapters (Technic and Tools) included in this edition as well.

All in all, Allen Bedford’s The Unofficial LEGO Builder’s Guide, 2nd edition (No Starch Press) is a GREAT book to have if you are a LEGO fan/builder.

Book Reviews *

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Gift of Education...

The gift of education; to be able to learn through books, the Internet, discussion, and even LEGO(R) technology and robotics without fear for one’s life is truly a precious gift. 

This post today is not about the joy of learning with LEGO(R) technology and robotics, but it is about education, the education one should not take for granted, but be grateful for the opportunity to learn. 

Some years ago Ziauddin Yousafzi opened a school for girls in the Swat District of Pakistan and has received death threats ever since then. On Oct. 9, 2012, in Mingora, Pakistan on her way to school, 14 year old Malala Yousafzai was singled out on a school bus by masked terrorist and shot – just because she wanted an education. Her dream was to be a doctor, but after the onslaught of the Talbian to destroy all schools for girls, she became an outspoken voice for education of girls. For this she was awarded Pakistan’s first National Youth’s Peace Prize and now an attack on her life.  Talbian said Malala was a target, calling her “crusade for education rights an obscenity.” Also, adding that if she survived, the militants would certainly try to kill her again. “Let this be a lesson.” 

My heart and prayers go out to this brave little girl and her family. Please read the NY Times article, view the documentary about her, and let your voice be heard in support of this amazing girl! 


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

FLL - Senior Solutions: FLL Guide to Success...

A FIRST LEGO League Challenge Guide to Success
(For Rookie coaches & even Veterans)
V. “LeGo-Bots Lady” Greene

Overview: What to Keep in Mind
      It’s about the learning process & having fun!

     Don’t stress about learning the programming – There are good tutorials:

There will also be excellent workshops & clinics at NYU - Polytechnic Institute check:
Emphasize the importance of the commitment by team members & their parents; making the practices & being available for the Qualifier Tournament & the Finals. Send a letter home about practice/tournament dates & times, for the team members & their parents to sign. Also, send reminders home of upcoming events. Solicit the help of parents & colleagues at practices and/or tournaments (and be sure to express your appreciation for their support) Let the kids become the experts! Remember this is a kid project; you are there for teaching skills, support, & guidance – encourage & ask thought provoking questions to help them come up with their own solutions to the challenges.

Getting Started
      Explanation of what the competition is about and the various awards.
      Viewing of the FIRST Compilation DVD & General Guide to the FLL Project.
      What is this year’s theme?
      What’s in the kit? 
      Learning & identifying the parts of the kit. Setting up some sort of organization of the parts.

Field Set Up
      What is this year’s challenge? View the robot challenge/game on the internet.
      Group team members in pairs & assign field set up building.
      Team discussion/brainstorming of ideas of how the tasks on the field can be accomplished 
         (someone can take notes). Print out copies of the Rules from the website & Rubrics from the online Robot Game & Project Guide:
      If you are building the tabletop (not absolutely necessary, but nice if you can), the Table Construction specifications are in the online Robot Game & Project Guide

Research Project
      Print out the Research Project topic from the online Robot Game & Project Guide 
      Have all members of the team do some initial research on the topic and share what information they found & resources.
      Team discussion/brainstorming of ideas of what the team would like to do for their project.
      Consult the experts on the topic – Internet, agencies, etc.
     Give your research presentation pizzazz!

Robot Challenge - Game Performance
      If possible, have more than one NXT robotics kit – one-per/3-4 kids. Design different models.  
        Be aware of the Equipment Rules, see the online Robot Game & Project Guide or
     Introduce the use of sensors, simple programming for the sensors, & motors. Have the team discuss & design robots specifically for the challenge.
    An easy free download LEGO Digital Designer is available @ for designing robots & attachments.
    Then have the team decide on the best robot to accomplish the missions & make a duplicate.
    Discussion of the missions on the field:
         What needs to be accomplished?
         What attachments or sensors are needed?
         What missions can be combined together?
         Have the students work in pairs or threes, with each group being responsible for a mission or group of missions. 
       Identify specialties, who are the main robot designers, builders, programmers, & handlers (the members who will go to the tables at the tournament) are, although all should be able to have input in any area.
      The Robot Handlers work in pairs: one controls the robot and the other is the “spotter” who helps put on attachments & removes objects in base out of the way. The team can have 1-3 pairs of handlers for the different rounds. Usually, there are 3 rounds. The highest score of all the rounds is used to determine place.

Robot Awards - Design/Programming/Strategy & Innovation
      Identify the 2 members who will present the robot to the judges for the Robot Awards. They will have to demonstrate the robot, explain the attachments & use of sensors, programming (Printouts of programming would be useful) & what strategies/innovations were use in deciding & performing the missions.

Core Value Awards - Inspiration/Teamwork/Gracious Professionalism
       The team will be given a brief challenge activity to work out i.e. represent an object without verbally communicating. They will explain to the judges the Core Values & how they worked together to tackle the challenge. Team spirit & enthusiasm. 

      During the competition judges may be walking around to see what the teams have or are doing in their Pits. 
      Spice it Up! Team T-shirts, caps, costumes, etc. Signs. Bookmarks & flyers about your Research Project.
      A Cheering squad - Have students, teachers, parents come to the tournaments.

Champion’s Award
       Robot Awards 25%, Robot Performance 25%, Project Presentation 25%, Core Values 25%

Go to: to printout the rubrics for the Research Project, Core Values, and Robot Design

Consent Forms
      Each member attending each tournament must bring a FIRST Consent Form. This will be available online to download.

Team Information Form
      Fill out one form per team & bring it to the tournament. This will be available online to download.

Stay informed! Check weekly
       Game Clarifications & Rules Update webpage:
         See also: - Calendar, Challenge & tournament info. - Calendar, Challenge building & programming tips.

Practice, Practice, Practice
      3 Weeks before the Qualifier - Pretend to be at the tournament – go through what will be done: Robot Performance 2.5 minutes.  Robot Design 5 minutes; Research Project 5 minutes; Judges’ interview of the for Core Values Awards 5 minutes.

V-Day – Qualifier & Finals
       Bring consent forms, a kit for repairs & enhancements, robot(s) (if you have more than one kit,  build & program two identical robots in case something happens to one & you don’t have time for major repairs), robot charger, Research Project materials, laptop & charger, power strip, extension cord.
        Lunch, snacks, and/or money for food.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

FLL - Senior Solutions: Scoring App...

The new App for this year's "Senior Solutions" FIRST LEGO League Robot Game Performance  is now available. It is a very valuable tool that you can easily access on your "idevice."  It lets you score, time, save & e-mail your missions score, links to the FIRST website for info, rules, Game updates & Project page. Price for this wonderful tool... 99 cents.


FLL - Senior Solutions: Programming - MyBlocks...

Attention, rookie coaches whose teams are using NXT-G programming software, just a word about MyBlocks vs.  “Custom Blocks.”

Custom Blocks are pre-programmed blocks downloadable from the Internet from various sources for the NXT-G software.  However, these are NOT ALLOWED for programming in the FIRST LEGO League Competition, because they are not created by the team members (kids).

MyBlocks, that the team members (kids) create themselves with the program blocks that come with the software, are permitted.  This is a good programming skill for the team members to learn and may be very useful when programming for the various missions.  It also uses less memory on the NXT Controller. 


Friday, August 24, 2012

FLL - Senior Solutions: Robot & Frank...

Today I saw the movie “Robot & Frank.”  It’s about a retired burglar, Frank, whose children, concerned about his mental health and living alone, gets him a humanoid robot that is programmed to improve their father’s physical and mental health.  This was a great film about one example of growing old and the problems that are associated with aging.  It touched upon a couple of the needs of seniors, specifically, the need for companionship and the need to be able to do something that they enjoy (although I wouldn’t recommend being a burglar and a shoplifter as a hobby).

This actually is a good film for this year’s FIRST LEGO League theme “Senior Solutions.”  It’s funny, it’s enlightening about senior issues, and it’s about a robot!  However, please note this is a PG-13 movie; there is some cursing in it.  Perhaps, coaches and 13 and 14 year old FLLers could see this movie together.


Saturday, August 18, 2012

FLL - Senior Solutions: Books for coaches...

    On Aug. 28, 2012 the release of the 2012 Senior Solutions Challenge will mark the start of the FIRST LEGO League Challenge 2012-13.

     For all you rookie coaches (and not so rookie coaches), don't panic!  There is help. Get your hands on these excellent books:

Just about everything you need to know about coaching an FLL team

by James Floyd Kelly & Jonathan Daudelin (No Starch Press)

 Winning Design! LEGO Mindstorms NXT Design Patterns for Fun and Competition
by James Trobaugh (Apress publishers)

Need a complete guide to NXT-G programming?
LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT-G Programming Guide 2nd ed
by James F. Kelly (No Starch Press)


Sunday, August 12, 2012

MINDSTORMS NXT-G & Firefox & Mac...


      My MINDSTORMS NXT-G software (educational & consumer versions) were working fine on my Mac (Snow Leopard) with Safari and Firefox, then recently the software stopped loading; there was now an error.  So why? Well, it turns out that recently Firefox updated its software, the new 14.0.1 causes a problem with the NXT-G trying to access the Internet, even if you don’t use Firefox as your Internet browser; Firefox installed on your computer still causes a problem.

     The solution (for now),  I uninstalled the Firefox and just use Safari.  Both versions of MINDSTORM NXT-G are working again.


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Saturday, June 16, 2012

FLL - Food Factor: Global Innovations Award winners...


PS 126M

New York City, NY, United States – Smart Milk Pitcher

They are in the 4 Finalists that will be attending
The FLL Global Innovation Awards Ceremony

Tues. June 19, 2012

See their video @


Sunday, June 10, 2012

LEGO Tech & Robotics: It's the Year of the Girls...Update 2

Last December the LEGO(R) Group launched a new theme, "Friends," building kits aimed at the possibly lucrative girls' toy market.  It was met with some controversy; criticized  by some as being sexist and reductive. Some thought the new minifigures in the Friends kits were a departure from the traditional minifigure, as maybe a bit too "realistic. " Actually, the Friends minifigures are more little "girlish" than early female "womanish" minifigures that actually showed cleavage.

Well LEGO took a gamble and it paid off with the "Friends City Park Cafe" being named Toy of the Year. LEGO is definitely on the right track in wooing the girl's market with Friends, pastel colored bricks, Duplo, Technic and robotics elements. There has been an increase in girls attending "Brick Events" and signing up at LEGO Tech Centers. Hey, if it gets the girls interested in designing, building, and thinking about future careers in architecture and engineering, then thumbs up to LEGO; it is no longer just a boy toy.

P.S. I have found that some of the boys like the new pastel color bricks too.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

FLL World Invitational Open in Florida...

Well, I'm back from Florida, The FLL World Invitational Open in Florida was FANTASTIC! 

Sunshine, palm trees, warm weather, interesting folks and robots; what a great combination!   Sixty-three teams came from all over the U.S. and the world. The spirit of Gracious Professionalism and Coopertition was everywhere as teams networked, exchanged ideas, exchanged e-mails for e-pals, joined Facebook pages, even played soccer and dodge ball together on the football field of our host All Saints Academy in Winter Haven. I met robots (and folks) from Israel, Columbia, Canada, Iowa, Texas, to name a few.

The robots were AWESOME and research projects were OUTSTANDING!

One of the highlights of games was the Blind Pirate's Challenge where teams were randomly paired as alliance teams to run the robot performance game together on the same table - two robots on the table at the same time! My team roboGbots and Epic Team 2.0, from Houston Texas, were an alliance team. Talk about Coopertition and fun. There was also an impromptu Robot Derby to honor the running of the Kentucky Derby.

And guess where the closing ceremony was...


- Reee-Bot the Roving Robot Reporter


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

FLL World Invitational Open @ LEGOLand...

Reee-Bot the Roving Robot Reporter here...

       I'm traveling with the FIRST LEGO League team - roboGbots and their lovely robot Athena to the FLL World Invitational Open at LEGOLAND, Florida - May 3-6, 2012.

        It is going to be a fantastic adventure, meeting robots (and people too) from all over the U.S. and the world! 

Tell you all about it when we return...


Monday, April 2, 2012

FLL - Food Factor: FLL Global innovation Award....


to the


New York City, NY, United States – Smart Milk Pitcher


in the

FLL Global Innovation Award


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

FLL - Food Factor: NYC FLL Championship Winners...

NYC FIRST LEGO League Championship
Congratulations to the Winners!

Champion's Award
1st place - roboGbots - Brics~2~Bots/RoboMindTech
2nd place - Mustangs 2 - IS 27SI

Robot Performance
1st place  - Alien Pi-Dalton - Dalton
2nd place - Ridder Kids - IS 98X
3rd place - Food Fighters - Forest Hills Robotics

Robot Design - Strategy & Innovation
1st place - Panthers 2 - IS 75SI
2nd place - Angry Birds - MS 118X
3rd place - PS 49er Minors - IS 49Q

Robot Design - Mechanical Design
1st place - Falcon Robotic All-Stars - MS 113K
2nd place - HM Lions - Horace Mann School
3rd place - Nano Wolves - Fort Greene Prep Academy

Robot Design - Programming
1st place - Masterminds A - MS 88K
2nd place - RoboTron - RoboMindTech
3rd place - Robo Rodeo - Dalton

Project - Research
1st place - Skybots - IS 383K
2nd place - Superbotz - IS 119Q
3rd place - TopGearz - IS 119Q

Project - Presentation
1st place - Fridge Fighters - St. Clare's School
2nd place - Lego My Eggo - MS 821K
3rd place - Slaughterbots - The Garden School

Project - Innovative Solution
1st place - Columbia Craft Crammers - Columbia Grammar Prep
2nd place - Riverdale Country School - Knights of the Rectangular Table
3rd place - The Bacteria Battlers - PS 58K

Core Values - Inspiration
1st place - HCHS Angry Nerds - Hunter College Campus
2n place - The Producers - St. Clare's School
3rd place - Panthers 1 - IS 75SI

Core Values - Teamwork
1st place - Genesis Legosmiths - Genesis at Xaverian
2nd place - PS 399 Gear Hawks - PS 399K
3rd - LegoBots - PS 128Q

Core Values - Gracious Professionalism
1st - Swedish Chefs - Packer Collegiate Institute
2nd - PS 94 AdmiralBots - PS 94K
3rd - Bisny Bots - British International School

Judge's Award
Ryan Lions - MS 216Q


Monday, January 30, 2012

FLL - Food Factor: NYC FIRST Tournament...

NYC FIRST Tournament

They're Going to Javits!

655 West 34th Street  New York

FIRST LEGO League Qualifying Winners

Bronx Qualifier
Champions Awards
1st - Knights of The Rectangular Table - Riverdale Country School
1st - Niles - MS 118
Core Values
Teamwork - Robotronics - Bronx Prep Charter School
Inspiration - HM Lions - Horace Mann
Gracious Professionalism - Bronx Brilliant Engineers - Young Athletes Association Mechanical
Robot Design
Mechanical Design - RoboTron - RoboMindTech
Programming - Ridder Kids - IS98
Strategy and Innovation - Techno Tigers - PS/MS 194
Research Project
Research - Bronx Task Force - Good Shepherd Services
Presentation - Bengal Tigerbots - PS 55 
Innovative Solution - CS 66 Brats - CS 66
Note the 2 teams below advanced because the 2 champions are also winners of the performance rounds so the next 2 performance round winners who did not place are advanced to round of the team advancement to 13
  • Qualifier No.1 - The Molecules - PS 195
  • Qualifier No 2 - The 76ers - PS 76
Manhattan Qualifier
Champions Award
1st - Alien Pi - The Dalton School
2nd - Raging Tigers - The Trinity School
3rd - Food Fighters - NYC Lab Middle School
Robot Design
Mechanical Design - Chelsea Transformers - Chelsea Prep Academy
Programming - Chapin Bots 2 - The Chapin School
Strategy & Innovation - Robo Rodeo - The Dalton School
Core Values
Inspiration - Thunderbots - Metropolitan Montessori School
Teamwork - Hunters to be Hunted - Hunter College High School
Gracious Professionalism - Angry Nerds - Hunter College High School
Research Project
Research - Digital Pride - The Gateway Middle School
Innovative Solution - Columbia Craft Crammers - Columbia Grammar & Preparatory School
Presentation - BISNY - British International School of New York
Rising Star: - MATbots - P.S. 126
1st - Chelsea Robot Rulers - P.S. 33 Chelsea Prep Academy
2nd - DROIDMakers - The Inwood Academy for Leadership
3rd - Chapin Bots 1 - The Chapin School

Brooklyn Qualifier
Champions Award
1st - Gear Hawk - P.S. 399
2nd - Falcon Robotic Allstars - M.S. 113
3rd - Skybots - I.S. 383
Robot Design
Mechanical Design - Lego My Eggo- M.S. 821
1st - Master Blasters - P.S. 94
2nd - Mission 11- P.S. 11
Strategy and Innovation
1st - Megaminds - P.S. 94
2nd - Banneker Bots - P.S. 256
Robot Performance
1st - Team: Master Blasters - P.S. 94
2nd - Team: Lego My Eggo - P.S. 821
3rd - Team: Megaminds - P.S. 94
Core Values
Gracious Professionals - Swedish Chef 2 - Packer Collegiate Institute
Inspiration - Bacteria Terminators - P.S. 9
Teamwork - Team [x]- P.S. 321
Project Research
1st - Super Novas - Urban Assembly Institute of Math and Science for Young Women
2nd -  Brick Boyz - P.S. 58
1st -  Germinators - P.S. 58
2nd -  Lego-nauts - P.S. 321
Presentation -  LegoMinds - P.S. 233
Judges’ Award - The Nerd Herd - St. Edmunds Elementary School
Against All Odds Awards - Nano Wolves - Fort Greene Preparatory Academy
Rising Stars - RoboTigers - P.S. 3
Rockbots - P.S. 321

Queens Qualifier
Champions Award
1st - Food Fighters - Forest Hills Robotics
2nd -  TopGearz - IS 119
3rd - RobGbots - Brics~2~Bots/RoboMindTech
Robot Design
Mechanical Design - Blood, Sweat, & Gears - IS 318
Programming - Slaughter Bots - The Garden School
Strategy - Ryan Lions - MS 216
Research Project
Research - Cambria Warbots - Cambria Heights School for the Gifted
Presentation - SuperBotz - IS 119
Innovative Solution - PandaBots - PS 94
Core Values
Inspiration - Clean'em Up Crew - IS 318
Teamwork - LegoBots - PS 128
Gracious Professionalism - 49er Miners - PS 49
Robot Performance
1st - Planetary Forces - Forest Hills Robotics
2nd - Food Fighters - Forest Hills Robotics
3rd - Robobeta - RoboMindTech
Judge's Award - GRIP - Forest Hills Robotics
Rising Star - The Phantoms - IS 192
Qualifier - Masterminds - MS 88

Staten Island Qualifier

(Sorry, I was not given the categories)
Panthers 1 - IS 75
Dryfus Torque 1 - IS 49
Genesis Legosmiths - Genesis at Xaverian
Dark Knights of 24 - IS 24
Panthers 2 - IS 75
Transformers 1 - St. Clares
Transformers 4 - St Clares
Eagles - Eltingville Lutheran
PAVE Bots - Pave Academy
Mustangs 2 - IS 27
Mustangs 3 - IS 27
Marauder Bots - Parks Dept.

Special Shout-Out!
L3GoBots Lady's team & mentee teams


Chapin Bots 1
Chapin Bots 2
Raging Tigers