Sunday, December 31, 2017

B2B Lab: Happy New Year...

Happy New Year!

May your New Year be a healthy & happy one
full of Brics~Bits~Bots!

Happy 2018!
From L3GoBots-Lady & students of Brics~2~Bots

* * * *


Wednesday, December 20, 2017

B2B Lab: Happy Holidays...

engineers wish you a

Happy Holiday!


LeGoramas are dioramas made with LEGO, of course!
A medium EV3 motor programmed with an EV3 brick provides the movement and sound.


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

FIRST - Inspires...

Whether you call it STEM or STEAM, 
FIRST robotics inspires!

Paula's Story

Please donate to FIRST to keep the success stories coming...

Another FIRST success story
and this one is personal to me...

Back in 2005-06, I had a FIRST LEGO League team called the CyberBots. These students are now in their twenties and doing great things: architectural engineering, research medical surgery,  electrical engineering, digital strategist, technology and more. Recently, one, Saeed Jabbar won the weWork Creator Award for his non-profit organization, Inclusion. 

Started in 2015 through a grant request, Inclusion provides training in computer coding and technology skills that would led its students to new and better employment.

Please donate to Inclusion to keep the success stories coming...


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Book Review: The LEGO Train Book...

Wondering what to give LEGO fans this holiday season who seems to have just about every new kit possible? Well, you could give them a bucket of LEGO elements (they could never have enough LEGO elements) or perhaps a new LEGO book.

Just in time for the holidays is a new book, The LEGO Train Book by Holger Matthes, No Starch Press, 2017.

Holger Matthes has been building with LEGO since 2000. He was involved in the creation of various official LEGO projects such as the Hobby Train set #10183 and frequently presents his models and gives workshops at LEGO exhibitions worldwide. He describes his book as a book  "about designing LEGO trains. The first part of the book gives an overview of LEGO trains over the different eras, covers some history, and answers questions about how to combine old LEGO trains from the attic with today’s kits. 

The second part of the book is about building your own LEGO train models, also known as My Own Creations (MOCs) . Using my many years of experience building LEGO models, I’ll show you how to create proper train models, covering both the possibilities and the limitations.

 Finally, the book ends with step-by-step building instructions for several models."

This is a wonderful book for the LEGO fan and particularly the LEGO train fan and possibly the model train enthusiast as  well.  It is also available at Amazon 


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 too loose fitting or the blue axle pin on the lift mechanism. Try switching the blue axle pin with another or using a blue long pin instead of of the beige long one; the knob will turn easily and the water level will stay when if flips. 


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


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:

Videos on Building with EV3 & FLL tips:

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.


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.


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. 


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:

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), double check the gear to the conveyor belt - the bar across the belt should be as pictured when you attach the gear.

Also, check these points when you secure it to the field mat:

Then it should work perfectly...


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!

Update: Jan. 27, 2018
     I was volunteering at a FTC qualifier on Long Island, NY and there were 3 impressive all-girls teams competing.


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. 


     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!!!