Saturday, September 24, 2005

Ocean Odyssey

I'm going to be coaching First Lego League Robotics this year. I am almost entirely new to it all, so I went to the kick-off at Polytechnic University today. It was a little overwhelming, but it helped me begin to envision how the competition works. Basically, there is a challenge with several small "missions" that are a part of it. Each mission is worth a certain number of points if successfully completed. The students get only 2 1/2 minutes to complete as much of the challenge as possible. This year's theme is "Ocean Odyssey." At the kick-off today, we got to look at the - um, I forget the official name for it, but basically, the game board. It's a table about 4' by 6' with Lego structures in very specific locations. Some of the missions are to move an artificial reef from "deep water" to "shallow water," to knock over flags in a transect mapping, to fix part of a pipeline, and more. It all looks challenging and fun. I think the thing for a new team to do is to pick just a few of the missions and attempt to make a robot that will do just those challenges as well as possible, rather than trying to do all the missions. We have to start with reasonable goals.

Beyond the performance of the mission, the tournaments consist of a research presentation competition - the children research a problem related to the oceans and present a solution in any creative format they choose - and a technical presentation - the children explain how their robot and its programming work.

This is going to be a lot of work, but I think it will also be really fun.


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