Tuesday, November 21, 2017

B2B Lab: The Inventive Spirit...

There is a new movement that has grown out of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) or more appropriately STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art/Design, Mathematics); it is learning by doing, which really isn't a new concept - John Dewy first brought it to light back in the early 1900s  - “Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.” “Give the pupils something to do, not something to learn; and the doing is of such a nature as to demand thinking; learning naturally results.” This has initiated the Inventive Spirit!

This new movement is not just encouraging students in general, but also the Spectrum student (students with Special Needs). And although STEM may have been looked upon as "male thing;" females are being inspired and leading the way (such as, Ayah Bdeir of littleBits®).

Check out this video of a young inventor...



So, whatever medium you may use: LEGO, Mindstorms, littleBits, Tetrix, paper & glue, etc. or combining any of them together...

Go Experiment, Discover, Learn, Invent!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

FLL - Hydro Dynamics: Faucet Model...


If teams are having some trouble getting the Faucet water level to stay in position after turning the knob, it might be because the beige long pin is loose fitting. Try using a blue long pin; the knob will turn easily and the water level will stay when if flips.  





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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

FLL - Hydro Dynamics: Robot Game Performance - Updates...



FLL Teams be sure to check for the latest updates @ FIRST

The latest update was November...


 Robot Game Updates 
NOTICE: Update 4 has been reworded, and Update 2 has been renamed. 

7 November 2017 

UPDATE 10 – WELL SLIDER CONTACT LENIENCY 
When all four of a Water Well’s black slider buttons are in contact with the mat, that Well will be scored as if its entire circular base is in full/flat contact with the mat wherever the well is. Restated: Although it’s true that the sliders keep the circular base off the mat, the well will be scored as if the sliders were taken away. (Ignore picture of Well on its side - sliders are not making contact)

UPDATE 9 – FOUNTAIN AND FLOWER RISE 
Each of these missions requires something to “rise,” by any method, and to “stay there” due only to a Big Water in the required place. 

UPDATE 8 – BASE RETURN LENIENCY 
A Robot entering Base will be considered “completely in Base” as soon as it matches the 2nd picture in Rule D07 even if there are portions of the Robot or something it has transported partially past the west or south border walls. This leniency does not apply for Launches. 

UPDATE 7 – CLOUD DIRECTION AND DAMAGE 
DIRECTION - Don’t be confused by the presence of yellow on both sides of the Cloud Model. The curvy cloud-like feature along with the lightning face east, as described and shown in the Field Setup Guide. If you have somehow come across a picture actually showing the Model backwards, see Rule GP5 #4, Bullet 1. 
DAMAGE – Be careful your Robot doesn’t break the lightning off the Cloud Model. Even though that feature is a decoration, Rule R17 still applies. 

UPDATE 6 – REMOTE STORAGE 
Team members away from the table may hold Equipment after the referee has seen all of it in one place, but Models must stay in view of the referee. 

21 October 2017 

UPDATE 5 – PUMP DUAL LOCK 
If you press your Pump Model against the wall but some of the Dual Lock is still visible (higher than the wall), re-apply the Dual Lock lower as needed until it’s no longer visible. Unlike with other Models, the precise Dual Lock pattern for this Model is not critical. Just be sure some pairs are low, and some pairs are as high as possible without being visible. 

UPDATE 4 – RULE D07, 6th PICTURE 
In Rule D07, ignore the 6th picture and its caption. 

UPDATE 3 – OPTIONAL LOOP OVERHANG 
The Optional Loop sometimes tilts out of the airspace above Pipe scoring area. This has no effect on the scoring. 

UPDATE 2 – WATER TREATMENT AXLE MAINTENANCE 
After following the Field Setup page (not the video) accurately, you may notice that the axle leading from the Toilet doesn’t exactly trace perfectly over its mark on the mat… THIS IS OKAY. At a tournament, the Toilet will be built and placed as shown, so that’s the placement you should practice with. If your properly built Water Treatment Model doesn’t activate while the yellow lever is held down, the problem is friction in the treatment Model. Make sure no beam is being pinched between a gear and a brown axle-joiner, nor pinched between two gears. Spread such elements from each other just a tiny bit, to ensure free-play. Also make sure all pins are fully “clicked” into their holes, for alignment. 

UPDATE 1 – Leniency (REVISED) 
If you Interrupt the Robot while it’s Transporting something that came from Base during the most recent Launch, you may keep that thing. 

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Saturday, October 28, 2017

FLL - Hydro Dynamics Core Values...

The Core Values of the FLL - FIRST LEGO League is as follows:


          We are a team.
          We do the work to find solutions with guidance from our coaches and mentors.
          We know our coaches and mentors don't have all the answers; we learn together.
          We honor the spirit of friendly competition.
          What we discover is more important than what we win.
          We share our experiences with others.
          We display Gracious Professionalism® and Coopertition® in everything we do.
          We have FUN!

Well, here is a delightful video put together by several international teams exemplifying the 
FLL Core Values



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Sunday, October 22, 2017

FLL - Hydro Dynamics: Info for FLL Rookies...


Research Project:
READ the Challenge Guide, it gives you direction in what the challenge is about, plus valuable tips & resources to check out. Start on it right away!


Robot Performance & Technical:
If you kids are new to Mindstorms robotics, before you tackle the robot performance, teach them basic robotic building & coding. After they show some confidence & understanding have them put the field models together, discuss strategy, decide on a robot chassis or two, and then let them take it from there. 
Here are a couple of excellent links that will be helpful to the rookie teams:

Videos on EV3 Programming:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OfrXGvBTk0o&index=3&list=PLJ9p4vPU79w6yjG7ndyn2xp-UMkSGFx9A


Videos on Building with EV3 & FLL tips:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCuXq-jiU0ANeBcF_Tvq1D7g/videos


Core Values:
Have the work on a Core Value or two each practice - explaining how it relates to their team, gathering pictures, ideas for their team board display, and possibly working on a song, skit, demo, etc.


Consider This...
I have been asked by rookie coaches, what is the role of the coach? FIRST is a fun learning experience, however, the kids need a foundation; the coach should be teaching them or reviewing the basic skills (how to build a simple chassis, basic programming, how to keep an engineer's notebook, how to do an experiment, note-taking, how to write a summary, how to do a blog, etc.) that they need to then go on and learn/make their own decisions/discover by doing. The coach's role after that is mainly management and directing the team on how to do problem solving & where to possibly go for answers. A coach doesn't just hand the team a kit, the guide, & say "go for it," because then they will not learn as much as they should from the FIRST experience.

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Friday, October 13, 2017

B2B Lab: LEGO board game...

A little board game history:

Probably the oldest board game known to have existed was Senet, and Egyptian game during the Predynastic (3500 BC) and First Dynasty (3100 BC). It was made of wood board with holes which were used to hold carved sticks that were moved about the board.


The game of Monopoly was originally invented in 1903 by American anti-monopolist Elizabeth Magie; It was intended as an educational tool to illustrate the negative aspects of concentrating land in private monopolies. Magie took out a patent in 1904. Her game, The Landlord's Game, was self-published, beginning in 1906. Later, in 1933, a variation on The Landlord's Game called Monopoly was the basis of the board game sold by Parker Brothers, beginning on February 6, 1935.


There have been lots of board games where you move around the board (usually made of cardboard) and accumulate play money, items, or be the first to make it to an end square.


In 2009, LEGO has also created board games made of LEGO elements (of course).


Two Brics~2~Bots engineers, Olivia and Jonas, have invented a rather different type of board game call Thief.




Introduction to the manual:


This game is a little different in that it is sort of three games in one. The object of the game is to catch the thief and return him to jail, thus winning the game. However, if a player catches the thief he could escape from his captor, but could also be capture by another player, or the thief could escape through the portal to another unknown time zone, winning the game. 

Of course like any exciting game there are obstacles and bonuses.



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Monday, October 9, 2017

FLL - Hydro Dynamics: Field Setup...



If you are still having trouble with the field set-up, rules, etc. check out FIRST LEGO League (European) website It's the same rules, but it sometimes gives another perspective & pictures. 

Shout out to: Mary Lee, St. Clare School Robotics, thanks for reminding me about this website. 

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FLL - Hydro Dynamics: Water Treatment Model & Pump System...




You might have noticed that the Pump System can move when you try to attach the Pump Addition. Check the Hydro Dynamics Robot Game Field SetUp Guide. It says, "Secure the model to the North border wall within the marks." There are no Velcro marks on the field mat. So, it probably means use Velcro on the wall. See picture from another FIRST guide:




Also, if you are having a little trouble with the Water Treatment model working properly (and you know you built it correctly with gear meshing not too tight or loose) check these points when you secure it to the field mat:







Then it should work perfectly...

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Sunday, October 8, 2017

FLL - Hydro Dynamics: The Field Mat Update...


Update: Just a word of caution about the field mat...

1. Handle with care, because this mat tears easily.

2.  After applying the Velcro to the mat and sometime later deciding to remove it, it sometimes takes the picture coating off - really!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

FTC - Relic Recovery: Let's Hear it for the Girls...

Indiana Jones Robotic Style


As the FTC (FIRST Tech Challenge) season starts
let's get the girls involved in building and programming robots!

Check out
what's happening with girls & STEM @ the  Pitsco Blog!

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Thursday, September 14, 2017

FLL - Hydro Dynamics: Using the Color Sensor on the Field Mat...


Once again it is a new exciting FITST LEGO League season!


This year's mat is very colorful, so the Brics~2~Bots engineers decided to test (using our test robot "Testy") the color sensor out on this year's mat, programming with the EV3 software. So here are some tips  for new teams when using the Color Sensor....



Test 1: Using WAIT for Color > Compare > Color whether black or white the color sensor sometimes detected very light (for white) and very dark (for black). That could be a problem!



Test 2: Using WAIT for Color > Compare > Reflected Light Intensity you can:
    1. Calibrate for black or white before the matches using Port View on the robot controller to measure Reflecting Light and adjust your program to WAIT for Color > Compare > Reflected Light Intensity for the resulting Threshold. 

or


     2. Write a Color Calibration program using the Color Sensor block which can be made into a MyBlock. Then place that color calibration MyBock at the beginning of the mission program to calibrate for a specific color & Write/store it in a Variable (give it a name, i.e. the color) that can be used to Read data (the light's threshold vale) into the WAiT for Color  block in the mission section of the program.

    Color Calibration & stored                                 Applied in a mission to find the Black line.


      3. If your missions programs are all under one EV3 Project, you can write a calibration program, saving the Threshold value in a Variable that can be used in any of the missions saved in that project. Several different color variables can be stored in the project.



Good Luck @ the tournaments
Remember Gracious Professionalism
&
Have FUN!!!

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Monday, September 11, 2017

B2B Lab: Using littleBits® and LEGO®...


Using littleBits® and LEGO® - What is littleBits? It is an electronic modular building system. “Bits” are electronic building blocks that are color-coded (Power, Input, Output, Wires) and connect to each other magnetically to form electronic circuits. The simplicity of building with them makes complex technology more understandable and definitely fun.  littleBits® has a Brick Adapter so that you can attach the Bits to a LEGO model – so cool!

 

  

    There are 4 types of Brick Adapters that you will receive in a kit or order separately as a package.



  Note: When stringing several littleBits Brick Adapters together and attaching them to LEGO bricks they have to be fitted a certain way.


  Q-Tip: If you are having trouble getting Bits, Brick Adapters, and LEGO elements to “stick,” try first attaching the Brick Adapters to the LEGO elements, then connect the Bits to the Brick Adapters by snapping them starting at the top then at the bottom or vice versa rather than trying to push from the middle of the Bit. Be sure to press only on the “shoes” - the color ends of the Bits.

  Even after snapping your Bits and LEGO elements together they still might come loose. Try securing them with additional building elements. It will also make the project look better.



   Besides bricks, bricks w/holes, and plates, what other LEGO elements can be attached to littleBits?





    How to attach a littleBits Mounting Board to LEGO  Connect a LEGO Technic Beam to the studs on a LEGO building plate. Insert Half Pins (short end) into the Beam; you will discover that when you count from the first insertion pin, every fifth hole on the Beam will match a hole on the littleBits Mounting Board. Attach the Mounting Board to the Half Pins in the Beam. Secure with a LEGO #5 Half Beam.






If you happened to have a MinuteBot Base (they are hard to find now) you can attach littleBits to the Base using the littleBits Brick Adapter, LEGO Beams and Half Pins.



Note: LEGO MIndstorms EV3 IR Beacon )also an Apple remote and perhaps some other remotes) can remotely control littleBits when used with a Remote Trigger Bit.

Check out the projects and Tips & Ticks on the littlBits website: