Monday, December 24, 2007

NYCFIRST Update 19: Happy Holidays, on to Riverbank

Dec. 24, 2007

A newsletter for the NYCFIRST robotics community in New York City and the surrounding area.


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On to Riverbank

The citywide tournament will take place on Saturday, January 26 at Riverbank State Park (145th St. and Riverside Drive). The time frame is roughly 8-4 with registration opening at 8 am and judging beginning almost immediately. We will send more details in January related to scheduling, parking, transportation, food, etc.

Note: 82 teams qualified. The 60 teams that did not are invited to come to Riverbank and participate in the festivities. Also a great experience for building the program in your school by bringing parents and interested staff.

Correction: I left out a Brooklyn Qualifying team from PS 81, The PS 81 They won 3rd place in the Robot Design category. Bell Bishop is the coach.

Qualifiers a success

Well, we managed to do it. Run 5 full-fledged qualifying events in a 3-week period with a full complement of judges and referees (expanding our volunteer base tremendously for the future), thus opening up our ability to give many more teams and kids in the NYC area the FIRST LEGO League experience. Running an event for the 82 teams going on to Riverbank should be a snap. Especially since it is only 1 day. I'm ducking as I write this.

We knew this was a transition year as we were reaching our max of 160 teams that could compete at the citywide in 2 days. Thus, this year, with registration running at 190 teams we bit the bullet and went to qualifiers. In fact, 142 teams actually showed up at the 5 events (139 showed up in the 2 days last year). The 50 others were either people who had registered multiple teams but decided to cut back, had funding issues, coaches or administrators moving to other schools or had difficulty meeting the earlier time table. We expect many of them back next year.

By moving ahead at this time, we feel we can now handle 250-300 teams. Space may be tight in some venues which might call for looking for larger venues. Or we can run more than 5 qualifiers (still ducking). But that is a problem for next year. Phew!

The tight time frame

There were complaints about how quickly we had to move. As we've pointed out, these events require the participation of the senior high school robotics kids and their coaches, many of who were in charge of running the local events. Since their season runs from the first week of January right through April, we are squeezed for time and getting the qualifiers done in December is the best option.

We will look at other options next year but we may not have too much room to vary things. So, think about registering and paying as early as possible so you can get the materials in late August, but do so with the knowledge that this does not guarantee you entry to the citywide event. The $250 registration fees go the national FIRST and not to NYCFIRST. There is a need to have a small fee at the local events to cover basic costs for food for volunteers, rental of chairs, etc. and that is where the $30 charge came from.

Queens tournament

The attendees at the event were thrilled at the venue – the aircraft hanger at Aviation HS - with airplanes in the backdrop. Tournament director Michael Koumoulos did a fabulous job in running his first tournament and enlisted practically his entire family (except his few months old son Dennis.) We'll get pictures up on the blog.

Pics from Queens tournament from Catherine Kunicki posted at:

Queens Qualifiers

0160 MS 51K Generals James Hoffman Research 4th

0394 MS 67Q Energize67 Ruta Dave Sabina Robot Design 3rd

0573 IS 125 Q Mr. Roboto Rudy Vera Research 2nd

0948 Community team Cyberbots Veryl Greene Performance 1st

1863 IS 119 Q TopGearz Chris Dudin Directors Award

2395 IS 192 Q Robo Fusion 192 Eric Greene Performance 4th

2728 IS 10 Q Horace Greeley IS Best 3000 Pat Shubitz Judges Award

3126 Edward Bleeker JHS 185 Stars Primal Dhillon Robot Design 2nd

3840 Bric-2-Bots Cyberots-Engineers Veryl Greene Robot Performance 2nd

3874 MS 216Q George Ryan The Lions Peter Xanthus Robot Design 1st

4113 Resurrection Ascension Titans Janna Valente Teamwork 1st

5517 IS 119 Q TopGearz Chris Dudin Joan Weber Teamwork 3rd

5618 Louis Armstrong IS 227 Q Lamchops 2 David Mabrey/Richard Akalski/ Joshua Blum Robot Performance 3rd

5619 Louis Armstrong IS 227 Q Lamchops 2 Same as 5618 Research 3rd

6292 Cambria Center Cambria Warbots Sheryl Liles Sheree Palmer Research 1st

7203 IS 126 Q S 126Q Stingers Stephan Linardic Teamwork 2nd

Staten Island Qualifiers

Mike Siegal and his FRC team did his usual wonderful job at the Staten Island tournament at SI Tech and things went like clockwork.

0198 Staten Island Tech HS Tech Knights Mike Siegal Performance Award 1st

0199 Staten Island Tech HS Tech Knows Mike Siegal Performance Award 4th

0332 IS 24 SI Rogue Leaders Raymond Cottrell Jane Frangos Research Award 3rd

0990 IS 34 SI Techno Eagles Joseph Buro Judges Award

0992 IS 34 SI Stell Talons Joseph Buro Teamwork 2nd

1408 St. Clare School Transformers 1 Mary Lee Performance 3rd

1409 St. Clare School Transformers 2 Mary Lee Performance 2nd

1410 St. Clare School Transformers 3 Mary Lee Research 2nd

1411 St. Clare School Transformers 4 Mary Lee Research 4th

1965 IS 72 SI V Team Deric Borrero Research 1st

1995 IS 75 SI Panthers 1 Donny Swanson Teamwork 3rd

1996 IS 75 SI Panthers 2 Donny Swanson Design 2nd

2235 Coen (Home) Micro Bots Patrick Coen Design 1st

2258 IS 27 SI Mustangs 2 Bryan Kilgallen Teamwork 1st

5499 IS 49 SI Robo Spartans Carol Obler Directors

5501 IS 49 SI Powah Playaz s Carol Obler Design 3rd

Looking to buy field-set up kit

Richard Shen is trying to get a program going in the Great Neck area. He writes after attending the Queens tournament:

It was great to see the excitement and the joy of challenge in the faces of the children and their families.

I'd like to get a set or two of the field kit which I am willing to purchase.

I can be contacted through my e-mail: or call


Blogger Ms. Frizzle Reports on the Bronx tournament: the life of a coach

Up at 6:30, met the kids around 8:30 in the Bronx… right after the opening ceremony, we were up for the research presentation. The kids went in discombobulated, unprepared, and nervous, and came out elated: It was perfect! They said they can't wait to see our musical! Then it was directly to our first robot performance match, where we scored 24 points with the programs misloaded onto the RCX. I saw the scoreboard before our second match: we weren't last - but only no-shows were below us. I decided that wasn't the moment to point out the team rankings to the kids. Off to the technical presentation, again the kids came out feeling proud of their conversation with the judges. Coaches aren't allowed into those events, but I'd love to have been a fly on the wall! Second match, zero points. I think we were DQ'd for a misunderstanding of the rules. Third match, after a breather and some adjustments to the robot (one of our motors had zonked out), sooo much better, 88 points, a bunch of missions completed although mostly by accident. The robot was overpowered and crashed into the walls and everything else, but we put some points up on the board! Fourth match, power level turned down and the two robot operators confident and with a revised plan, we completed five missions and scored 128 points and vaulted up to 23rd place (out of 42). This time I let the kids notice the scoreboard. We're going to win!! We're going to win!! Trying to be positive while still managing their expectations so I wouldn't have tears after the awards ceremony… This is the best we've ever done and all the kids are having fun and staying engaged and cheering on their teammates. Fifth round, I don't know what we scored but it was even better, six missions completed and nearly seven. We cleaned up our pit table and grabbed seats in the bleachers to watch the Lehman HS cheer team perform. Another teacher from school showed up and the kids mobbed him to tell him about their day. The announcer had us all do the chicken dance, the YMCA, and then invited all the kids down onto the gym floor for a 500-strong Cha-Cha Slide. Going into the awards ceremony, our kids were so sure they'd win something, it kind of broke my heart. I figured we had a small chance of a judges' award, possibly teamwork, but that was about it… still, I was so proud of them because they'd learned a ton, worked hard, and stayed positive… so I told them that and crossed my fingers. The little boy next to me asked after every award how many were left (um, one fewer than the last time you asked…). I have to give them credit, they were really disappointed but didn't sulk or make unpleasant comments about the winning teams. We talked about next steps, I asked who had a good day, every hand went up, and I sent them off to their weekends.

Running local events

Small local events can take place at your school. After school or even during-school events might be fun. Contact me for assistance if you need ideas or to put you in touch with others in your vicinity.

We would like to see as many teams as possible have more opportunities to continue the program. Preparing for these events that keeps kids interested.

Compiled by Norm Scott

NYCFIRST Registration coordinator


Have a good day


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