Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Tokyo Notes

Random thoughts on many things...

Wed. April 30, 5 AM, Tokyo time (which is 4pm, Tues., Apr. 29, NY time)

Leaving tomorrow early to start heading home. Plane takes off at 11 AM and we arrive in NYC at 10:30 AM, a half hour earlier than we left. Will I be a half hour younger?

I came to Tokyo as part of a group to assist with the Asian Open FIRST LEGO League tournament. The event ended Tuesday afternoon after 3 intense days. As a first time referee I was in the middle of a lot of the action and there's a lot to say about FLL, robotics, etc.

This trip also turned into a unique opportunity to interact with a great variety of adults and children from all over the world. So much has gone on, it is hard to contain all of it. We have also been on the constant run - I'm leaving soon to meet the teachers and kids from Little Red Schoolhouse from Manhattan for a trip out of town to a giant Buddha. But more on that later. (Note- I'm using a borrowed computer and the browser is in Japanese, so there will be lots of typos which I'll fix when I return.)

There's lot to write about - including some of the observations I've had and many educational conversations I've had with Europeans and Asians and Americans. We had 2 contrasting NYC middle schools here - one public school from the Bronx and the other a private school from Manhattan and I had a bit of perspective from talking to the teachers and observing some of the interactions between the kids, especially last night when we all had dinner together. We were joined by one of my traveling companions from NYC, who is of Japanese descent but born and raised in Brazil but also lived in Japan for 9 years. After dinner a few of us met up with a group of Europeans from the Netherlands, Germany, and Denmark in the bar.

This posting will keep a running account over the next few weeks as things come back to me.

Last Saturday there was a planned excursion to a temple, followed by lunch and then onto an area of Tokyo known as electronic city - think of a thousand B&H's and J&R's piled on each other block after block - plus assorted other stuff like the old Canal Street hobby shops. Geek heaven. Back to that later.

About 200 kids and the adults with them milled about the lobby at the Keio Plaza hotel. The teachers from Little Red -Sherezada, Karen, and Steve finally met Gary who works with the Ridder Kids from the Bronx to hand over the $1200 they raised from bake sales to help out the Ridder Kids.

We were part of a group that never signed on, so there was no room on the buses.

...to be continued

Friday, April 25, 2008

Illiterate in Tokyo

....without a doubt the most polite place ever.

So this is what it feels like to be illiterate. You can't even look something up in a dictionary. The streets have no names so following a map is almost impossible. We've (I'm travelling with Gary who was my counterpart in Region 2 and then moved on to handle the entire Bronx) figured out you have to use buildings as markers. Luckily we have Marcio with us. He's a New Yorker of Japanese decent originally from Sao Paulo, Brazil. He lived in Tokyo for 9 years and even he finds it confusing. He took us out last night to the east end of the area where his hotel is located. One of the known red light, raunchy districts in Tokyo. But we saw little raunch and ate on the 5th floor of a building. Many restaurants are on top of each other in a vertical pile. So are some people around here I imagine.

We're in Shinjuko in the west end of Tokyo. The train station here may be the busiest in the world. Some 2 million people pass through a day.

We want to walk everywhere. Marcio discourages us, urging us to take the subway. We did convince him to walk to day but it is not easy to get around that way for anything but short distances. Some aspects of the city remind me of London, certainly that they drive on the opposite side of the road. But London could be walked. Here, you have to go up stairs, then down stairs. Streets do not run parallel.

We got back to the hotel this afternoon for the meeting with the organizers and volunteers. Most are from Europe and LEGO education. We were led on a school-type trip back to Shinjuku station for a 4 stop subway - really, many trains here are elevated- ride to someplace I can't pronounce - they have the offices there. Someone from LEGO Japan did the translating for us. I am going to be a referee for the first time and had to relearn the game. Gerhardt from LEGO in Denmark is a lifesaver and we went over all the aspects and now I have a feel for it. We're meeting Sunday at 9:30 to go over stuff and practice scoring - I need the most help - to be ready for the real competition on Monday. The 56 teams from 24 countries and 456 kids. Really all over the world. Peru and Brazil, a bunch from the US, Canada and Mexico. Five from China, teams from Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan. any from Western Europe. And Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia. We were disappointed to hear the 2 teams from Israel had to cancel at the last minute - we could have solved the middle east in 3 days.

We were taken to eat after the training at an 8th floor restaurant with a buffet right over the train station - there's lots of these big shopping areas as part of train stations. I sat with David who is a phys ed teacher in Barcelona and runs all of the tournaments in Spain and a woman who runs the tournaments in Benelux. Is iit amazing meeting all these people who speak fluent English? What a dunce I feel like.

After eating the organizers felt the trains would be too crowded, so they piled us in cabs to get back to the hotel. I could have walked faster. Tokyo traffic is awful. But in addition to David, a gal from Germany was in the cab and she works in the social responsibility section of a major corporation and recruits mentors for teams.

In a major interesting point of the conversation, she asked about KIPP involvement in FIRST activities and said she has friends who work with KIPP in the states. That led to a great follow-up - I told her to tell her friends to contact me if KIPP in NYC was interested in FIRST robotics. We did get to talk about some of the broader issues facing the corporate takeover and she surprised us by saying there were few private schools in Germany and those that do exist are viewed as havens for kids who buy their degrees because they cannot make it in the much better perceived public schools.

Back at the hotel, the organizers told us the tallest building in Tokyo was open for us to go up and check out the views and David, Gary and I went on up but the glass prevented us from taking good pics. Gary and I went over to the Hyatt to try to find the school from Little Red which had raised $1200 in bake sales to contribute towards the Ritter Kids from the Bronx who arriving 17 strong along with their principal and 6 parents Saturday afternoon. They didn't check in 'till after 7 (what a long, grueling trip they must have had) but must have gone out to eat.

Tomorrow we go on an all day excursion out of the city.

I think I'm jet-lagged up the kazoo.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Asian Open - Tokyo, April 27-29


Country / Organisation
Team IDTeam Name
BrazilJ2030LEGO Teen
J2031LEGO Wurth
J2032TECNO Wurth
Canada J2040 Dunamis NRG
China J2060 Beijing Green Port Angel Arts Team
J2061Beijing Youth Union Team
J2062Taishan Junior
J2064Winning Eleven
EgyptJ2090Knight Team
(Hearing Inpaired Team)
GermanyJ2100SAP Universal Robots
J2101Young Girls CJD
Hong KongJ2150Carmel Rocks!!
IrelandJ2160St. Geralds Castlebar Clan
MalaysiaJ2210GO ENASON
NorwayJ2230Lego Extrem
Saudi ArabiaJ2280Royal Commission Robotics Club
J2281DAS Important Penguins
SingaporeJ2294The Flaming Blades
South KoreaJ2320LEGO VIRUS
J2031Fashion Hair
J2032Red peppers
J2033LEGO Prince
J23357 de sec+2
J2345Jolly Roger
J2361X Power
J2362Happy Go!
The NetherlandsJ2370icNRG - I see ENERGY!!
J2375De Spaarlampjes
(Power Saving Lights)
United KingdomJ2390Tech Heds
United States (New York)J2030LREI Knights
J2400Sandy Run Robotics Club
J2402The Ridder Kids
J2403Robot Masters
JapanJ2410Toin Robotics Jr.
J2411 Nara Education University JHS
J2415kaettekita kyushu no samurai

Sunday, April 20, 2008

NYCFIRST Update 25: Season Finale

April 18, 2008:
A newsletter for the NYCFIRST robotics community in New York City and the surrounding area.

NYC/NJ FIRST web site http://nycnjfirst.org/

This will be the last numbered Update for the 2007/8 FLL Season.
A new series of Updates for the 2008/9 season starting at #1 will begin in May.

Registration opens May 1
A new registration procedure will be in place this year. In case of snags you might want to shoot me an email after you register with the Team #, School/Organization, your name, Primary email, phone. You can also include the order# (in case you misplace it I'll keep it in my data base). Also, whether you ordered a robotics kit in addition to the registration and the field set up kit (MAKE SURE TO TAKE CARE OF THIS ITEM – DO NOT REGISTER WITHOUT ADDING THE FSK.)

The World Festival is on NOW in Atlanta – APR. 17-19.


Good luck to our own St. Clare's OF Staten Island and coach Mary Lee.

Packard Collegiate coach Maureen Reilly is there following events.
She wrote and published a story on St. Clare's going to Atlanta on MINDSTORMS.com

Live feed from NAASA, thanks to Chris Gooding for scoping it out.


Tokyo – It's a Tiny World
Gary Israel and I are heading off to Tokyo next week along with Marcio Noguchi to assist with the Asian Invitational tournament. Two teams from NYC will be going: Herman Ritter MS from the Bronx and Little Red School House from Manhattan.

Look for reports on Norms Robotics Blog.

This comment was left on the blog from the Dutch team:
team icNRG - I see ENERGY !! said...
Counting Down the days until Tokyo!
We will meet there at the FLLOAC
Have fun!
Dutch FLL team icNRG - I see ENERGY !!

Earth Day in Rockaway- May 3, 12-4 PM
Beach 29th St and the Boardwalk

There will be an FLL exhibition with 2 schools attending: Louis Armstrong from Queens and IS 72, Rocco Laurie from Staten Island. Bob Woods from LEGO education will also be doing some demos.

Other activities: American Museum of Natural History, Mobile Museum, Dinosaur Dig, Kite making, mock dolphin rescue, green circus performers, water testing, plantings, solar race cars, face painting, arts and craft booths.

Visit the web site www.rwalliance.org
or call 718- 318-4000

Contact Jeanne Dupont from the Rockaway Waterfront Alliance for more info.

The robotics PENTATHLON is back!
Mike K writes:
Better late than never... I hope.

Districts 24/32 will hold a Lego Robotics tournament at Aviation High School on a Saturday at the end of May or early June.

The event is open to everyone. There is a cap of 20 teams and I can't refuse entrance to any teams from districts 24 or 32. I need everyone's help (Norm) in getting the word out to the Brooklyn teams (and the rest of NYC, too).

For more info, go to this website (copy and paste it into yoru browser) http://koumoullos.com/pentathlon/

I'm going to create another google group for this event, so teams not participating won't get flooded with mail their not interested in.

The google group is called 2432robotics@googlegroups.com.

I'm sorry for the short build season. I don't expect this do happen again.

Mike Koumoullos

Javits – what an event
Check my blog for a great pic taken by coach Randi Huss of the IS 72 SI team with Dean Kamen. Randi cornered Mayor Bloomberg and made sure he stopped by the team booth to see their research project.


Greetings Everyone,
Wow! What another incredible day! While I wasn't able to make it to Javits before today's FRC/FLL Expo and competition...I must say it was incredible to see how well everything worked...The FLL event went off really smoothly and there was so much space for the children to spread out that you never would have known there were 60 teams there!

The career fair and booths were great for the younger kids to be able to visit!

The vending services worked well for the number of people in attendance!

The list of positives goes on and on...

I would say the committee is well on its way to orchestrating a future combined event for the FLL FRC season at Javits again next year!!!

Great job everyone! We all worked hard and have so much to show for it! I look forward to sharing our ideas and thoughts on this weekend as we decompress from the end of another incredible season and look forward to planning another great one together!

Very Truly Yours,
Keith Wynne

Elementary Science Specialist
Grades 3-5
P.S. 58 The Carroll School
330 Smith Street
Brooklyn, N.Y. 11231

"Educating students from around the globe since 1996."

Good morning everyone --

What a terrific event! Tons and tons of rave reviews from teams, guests, exhibitors, parents, VIPs, and yes, even the folks on Chief Delphi.

Steve Krawic of ShowReady Events had nothing but raves. He and his staff love coming to NYC because we are so well organized and have such a dedicated crew of volunteers.

Paul Gudonis told me that New York City is FIRST Is number ONE -- that we are the benchmark against which other regionals are measured.

We took on another great challenge this year and we more than met it. We went into orbit.

And most importantly -- a quality event means a quality experience for kids. We impacted the lives of thousands of young men and women this season -- giving them new experiences, opportunities to learn, and the knowledge that their community really values their achievements -- and that is what FIRST is really about.

You should be very proud of what you have helped make possible.



If you want to be removed from this list type "unsubscribe" in the subject area and hit return. If you already asked and it didn't happen yet, ask again as sometimes I get behind in paperwork.

Compiled by Norm Scott
NYCFIRST Registration coordinator

Have a good day


Monday, April 07, 2008

IS 190, Bronx Robotics Team at AMNH

Hi Norm,
As I mentioned to you yesterday, here are some photos of students Andrew Baez and Abraham Petro as they presented the work they did for the Lego project at the YouthCan Conference held at the American Museum of Natural History on Monday April 7th. These students did an energy survey of their school, interviewing the head custodian, touring the boiler room, using the bathroom sign in sheet to estimate how much water the school uses and surveyed the teachers to learn about air conditioning and light use. They compared our energy use to that of a building at the Queens Botanical Gardens which is designed to attain the highest (platinum) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating. The students made recommendations as to how to improve our school's energy efficiency. They then created a movie documenting their research and recommendations.

Maribeth Whitehouse
I.S. 190

Friday, April 04, 2008

NYC Public School Teams at Javits

Team Number Team Name School/Org Borough

189 Robotnics Automotive High School Brooklyn
983 NXT 193 P.S. 193K Brooklyn
1090 Lego My Eggo Sunset Park Prep, M.S. 821 Brooklyn
1435 Pack-A-Watt Packer Collegiate Institute Brooklyn
1468 Warbots MS 50k Brooklyn
1477 The Robot Shockers P.S. 58 The Carroll School Brooklyn
3555 Power Knights PS 8 Brooklyn
3628 SkyBots I.S. 383 Philippa Schuyler Middle School Brooklyn
5689 WWW.Robokids.com P.S. 81 Brooklyn
6138 TheRobotMasters.com IS 318 Brooklyn

196 Solargy IS 123 Bronx
1634 Team X IS 190 Bronx
1673 Molecules PS 195 Bronx
2132 The Ridder Kids Hermann Ridder Intermediate School 98 Bronx
5703 TechnoBots Aspire Preparatory Middle School (MS322x) Bronx
5744 Energy All-Stars P.S. 108x Bronx
6814 Phipps Lego Team Phipps Community Development Corp. @ P.S. 112 Bronx
7100 BX Ryders I.S. 162 Bronx
7218 The Castle Hill Robots JHS 127 Bronx
7289 PS 196x Bronx

5115 Thing 1 Manhattan East Manhattan
5116 Thing 2 Manhattan East Manhattan
6540 MS 44 Robotic Wizards MS 44 William O'Shea Complex Manhattan

573 Mr Roboto IS 125, Woodside Queens
1814 Transformatrix Intermediate School 230 Queens
2395 Robo Fusion 192 Renaissance Middle School/ I. S. 192 I Queens
2397 Robo Fusion 192 Renaissance Middle School/ I. S. 192 II Queens
3840 Cyberbots Brics-2-Bots Queens
5618 LAMChops 1 Louis Armstrong Middle School (IS 227Q) Queens
5619 LAMChops 2 Louis Armstrong Middle School (IS 227Q) Queens

1963 Rocco Laurie IS 72 I IS 72 Staten Island
1964 Rocco Laurie IS 72 II IS 72 Staten Island
1965 Rocco Laurie IS 72 III IS 72 Staten Island