Thursday, September 20, 2007

NYCFIRST Update 10: 175 teams registered

Sept. 20, 2007

A newsletter for the NYCFIRST robotics community in New York City and the surrounding area. If you want to be removed from this list type "remove" in the subject are and hit return. If you get doubles of this email let me know.

Compiled by Norm Scott
NYCFIRST Registration coordinator

The NYC/NJ FIRST Web site is at

Register for FLL at:

Call for veteran coaches to assist us with a presentation on the research project at the Sept. 29 kickoff. We need some facilitators to provide tips and techniques for new coaches (roughly 43).

Also: Aside from reviewing the missions, are there any issues you would like covered: i.e. Robust robot building, differences between RCX/NXT, etc.
I can't guarantee it, but we will try to address these issues.

Future updates
Rather than inundating you with long updates, I will post pertinent info on the blog I set up. I will send these up periodically to remind you to check the blog.
Check the sidebar to the right for important info.
Borough tournament dates and locations are listed with contact info to register (I don't have all of them up yet.)

Norm's Robotics blog:

There is a link at the sidebar on top to the Google spreadsheet with a list of registered teams as of this morning.

Or you can access it directly at:

Visiting your schools:
I am hoping to feature some schools on the blog as they prepare this year. Invite me and I'll try to stop by. Let me know days/times you meet and a cell phone for me to contact you. If pics/video are ok, make sure to get consent forms from kids.

Sept. 29: Kickoff at Polytechnic U in Brooklyn

Parking: You can find a spot in the street if you get there early and are willing to walk a bit. South of Atlantic Ave is easier.

There is a garage at the Marriott across the street.

You do not have to register, but if you are bringing a lot of people let me know how many so I can keep a rough count. Kids/teams welcome. Bring a camera (video if you want to use it with your kids.)

Time frame: 8:45-12:30

Schedule (tentative):
9-10: All coaches. Please be on time as very important information on qualifying tournaments will be discussed and questions answered.

10-11: Coaches will be divided between new coaches and vets.
Vets will review the missions and game board.

Newbies will get essential info, programming and building tips.

11-12: New coaches will review missions while those vets that wish can get some review of programming.

Since this will be a very important component this year in order to go on to citywide and the timetable is significantly moved up, a discussion will take place on best practices. (SEE URGENT ABOVE)

The Game:
In the past, practice tournaments were used to get ready in Nov/Dec for the Jan. event. Now these dates are suddenly more real and your timetables are being squeezed. This is a transition year and we will get the kinks out, so be patient.

One of our problems in scheduling is the fact that we rely so much on the amazing high school kids who do senior robotics - FRC - and give so much of their time. But their very intense season always begins on the first Sat. of Jan. and goes on for 6 weeks. We have a brief window at the end of Feb. before their competition begins again. We will look at that window to see if some events can be scheduled.
Borough events are dependent on the following FRC teams:
Bronx: Lehman HS
Staten Island: SI Tech
Queens: Aviation HS
Brooklyn: Brooklyn Tech
Manhattan: Stuyvesant

Because this is a transition year, we are looking at additional events to give your schools more opportunities to compete. We are considering some activity at the Javits Center where the FRC and FTC (VEX) tournaments will take place the first weekend of April.

Also, some other FRC schools may be interested in hosting some events, possibly in Feb. and March and maybe beyond.

Training for coaches
October 6 at NYU – all day training in NXT (tentative).
You will need to bring your robotics kit (not the field set-up) and your software.
Space is limited.
New coaches and vet coaches switching from RCX to NXT will get priority.
Registration procedure will be announced in an upcoming newsletter.
Also, check the norms robotics blog.
Other dates will follow on Saturdays in October, some at Polytechnic U

A Junior FLL (ages 6-9) event will be held in conjunction with the qualifying event at PACE U on Dec. 2. FIRST has opened registration until the end of Nov. Open to all schools. Contact Keith Wynne at:

Election day (Nov. 6) training:
Mike Siegel of Staten Island Tech who is running the SI tournament again this year will continue the tradition of training on this date, most likely in NXT. Details to follow. Priority to SI teams but Mike will take others if there's room.

Mike Koumoulos at Aviation HS, who will be coordinating the Queens qualifying event will be holding training in RCX only on Election Day at Aviation in Queens. Mike has taken over some of the former Region 4 duties from Stephen Shapinsky, who has moved to Las Vegas.

Feedback on the challenge board from Mary Lee of St. Clare:

Any feedback on this year's challenge board?
Here are some from me ... but this is before really getting into it.

* We just looked at videos the other day and it was a bit overwhelming. Will need all the time we can get to try to figure out all those tasks and the contingencies placed on many of them as well as the scoring. My head is spinning just watching those videos! My kids lost their minds too! LOL
* We also felt the research project guidelines were a little more confining this year than in the past. We had some pretty creative things in mind that we were hoping to pursue and now we find we are trying to shoehorn them into the mold set for us. But that's life. Have to modify and adjust all the time. I am sure the kids will figure out something.
* And we still think the RCX is better!!! The kids feel the RCX users have the advantage not NXT... again my team's feeling on the matter. But we worked on NXT training again this summer and hopefully NXT will be our friend this year. We will give the relationship another try. No divorce papers being issued yet.

Have a good day


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