Friday, May 30, 2008

NYCFIRST Update 1: It's a New Game

NYCFIRST Update 1: It's a New Game

May 30, 2008

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


The NYC/NJ FIRST web site is at

Welcome to the new season: Climate Connections

Important Dates:
Registration opened May 1
(MAKE SURE TO TAKE CARE OF THIS ITEM – DO NOT REGISTER WITHOUT ADDING THE FSK.) Schools/orgs with multiple teams do not need to order more than one FSK.

WARNING: Inside word is there may be a shortage of Field Set-Up Kits
Registering and paying before the school year will assure you of having your kit sent to you at the end of August or early September. Only 7500 kits are available. I just tried registering and my team number is already 1720. Already, 30 teams in NYC have registered.

Registration: $200
FSK: $65 – again, you MUST check this box. Schools/orgs with multiple teams do not need to order more than one FSK.
Shipping: varies

You can also order one robotic kit and accessories when you register.

Payment: Check, credit card, or PO (can cause delays.)

You can register and pay later but nothing will be shipped until you do.

For NYC schools, I am not sure of where the contracts stand.

Here is the info from last year:
LEGO contract number for software has been changed to 2Z17701
Vendor number is LEG0 55 please make sure to use the number 0 when typing in LEG0

If you cannot find the info contact LEGO's Bob Woods:

Learn more about FLL here:

NYCFIRST Planning Committee
We held out first meeting this past week and a couple of important decisions were made. I'll get into the details and reasons at another time.

I know I promised we would try to extend the time frame but we will not be able to this year so expect the same rough schedule as last year:

Riverbank citywide tournament: Jan. 31, 2009
Rationale: We preferred a later date but the only other date available was the last weekend of March. As to doing it at the FRC tournament at Javits (March 8), the hall is too small to do a full tournament there, but we will do an exhibition like last year.

Qualifying tournaments will take place in December – as late in the month as possible to give you more time and possibly one or two in early January. Target dates: Weekends of Dec. 13, 20 and Jan 10.

Kickoffs to review the Climate Connections robot performance will take place:
Sept. 13 in the Bronx
Sept. 20 or 27 in Brooklyn at Polytechnic U

Free training will be offered on a few Saturdays in October most likely at Polytechnic or NYU. We are not sure who is doing the training but we may ask some of our experienced coaches to help out.

Election Day training at Aviation HS: free and open
Mike Koumoulos will be handling it and he will allow your robots to vote in the election at a special robotic voting booth. No hanging chads, please.

The robotics PENTATHLON at Aviation HS is this Saturday, May 31
Come and check it out.

Also check out the events at:

Saturday, May 31, 2008
9:00 AM to 2:00 PM

Aviation High School

45-30 36th Street, Long Island City, NY 11101
Between Queens Blvd. and 47th Ave.
Enter on 35th Street into the cafeteria

Pentathlon Team Registration List:
1. IS 230 - No Name - Sonya Rencher - D30
2. IS 383 - The Skybots - Lindrick Outerbridge - D32
3. IS 192 - Robo Fusion I - Eric Greene - D29
4. IS 192 - Robo Fusion II - Eric Greene - D29
5. Bric~2~Bots - Cyberbots - Veryl Greene - D28
6. Cambria Center - Warbots - Sheryl Lyles - Private Organization
7. IS 227 - LAMChops I - Richard Akalski, David Mabrey - D30
8. IS 227 - LAMChops II - Richard Akalski, David Mabrey - D30
9. PS 226 - No Name - Nancy Azcona - D21

Mike Koumoullos

Trip to Japan for FIRST Asian FLL Tournament
Tokyo is a wonderful city to visit and the tournament allowed us to visit with the worldwide FLL community. I'm ready to go off to other events if invited.

There's so much to say about the experience. Thanks to my roomie, Gary Israel, who made his computer available, so I got to put up a few comments on my blog. But things were so hectic, I barely had time. I did love the comment from a parent in Mexico City asking me to check in with his son on the Mexican team. Thanks so much to Kamoshida-san and Ishihara-san FLL Japan/OAC for giving us the opportunity.

I wrote this piece of my local newspaper, The Wave.

Tokyo Notes
The conga line snakes around the arena. 450 kids from 24 countries on five continents. We are in Tokyo. The children are between nine and 17 years old and we are at the end of three days of competition at the Asian Open FIRST LEGO League tournament.
The kids are from Peru and Brazil; a bunch from the US, Canada and Mexico; five from China; teams from Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Korea; many from Western Europe – France, Spain, Germany, Holland, all the Scandinavian countries; and Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia. We were disappointed to hear the two teams from Israel had to cancel at the last minute - we could have solved the Middle East in those three days.
I was asked to be one of four referees – the other three were Japanese college students, only one of whom spoke English. Yikes! I've never been a referee and didn't really know the game well enough, especially in such an intense competitive environment – sort of like being asked to umpire your first game in the World Series. But they needed an English speaker. I spent part of the 14 hour plane ride studying and then raced around on the practice day getting all the rules straight, relying a lot on
Tomo, the English speaking student, who ended up being my ref partner throughout the tournament – thank goodness – after I made sure to recruit some of the Europeans to join us. It turned out many of them were in my boat – helping organize and run tournaments but never having time to learn the intricacies of the game.
This year's theme was energy – the Power Puzzle – and teams also have to do research on solving the energy crisis and do a presentation in front of a panel of judges. So, things were a bit chaotic and on the first day, we didn't get out until 8 PM. Later that night a group of us gathered in the lobby going over the rules until 11 PM. I marveled at the fact that here are adults spending hours working on this stuff and taking it so very seriously to make sure it goes ok for the kids. But that is what working with FIRST robotics is all about.
The refereeing went pretty well, though there were kids from two Chinese teams pretty mad at Tomo and me for some of our rulings. One of the kids spent a half hour arguing with me and I told him he should be a lawyer. The next day all the kids came over to take pictures. Having this kind of contact with kids after so long an absence was the great benefit of the trip. It is the major thing I miss about teaching.
We had two contrasting NYC middle schools - one public school (Herman Ritter) from the South Bronx and the other a private school (Little Red School House) from Manhattan where the kids raised $1200 in bake sales to assist the Ritter kids in getting to Japan. Ritter returned the favor by taking Little Red to dinner in Tokyo, the idea of Bronx FLL organizer Gary Israel (my roomie) who has been instrumental in promoting the Ritter kids.
This trip turned into a unique opportunity to interact with a great variety of adults and children from all over the world. I was fortunate in having Marcio Noguchi as a traveling companion. Marcio, of Japanese descent but born and raised in Brazil, lived in Japan for nine years. He now works for Credit Suisse in New York, so he brings a perspective of three continents to the table. We spent a lot of time together walking miles around Tokyo, so I got some great insights, illuminated after a sampling of sake at one restaurant. Afterwards, we went looking – I was staggering – for ice cream and not finding a place, ended up at an all night McDonalds for shakes. It is a five story vertical place with stools at counters where some people spend many hours studying.
Marcio left his motorcycle in my driveway and some of my neighbors were concerned that I was going through some kind of phase.

Northside Looking for a Coach
(This is an old email so the position may have been filled)
Judy Thoms, M.S.
Chief of Educational and Related Services
Northside Center for Child Development
1301 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10029
TEL (212) 426-3415 FAX (212) 410-7561

A few weeks ago I sent out an inquiry to see if anyone knew a mature high school student or a college student who would want to teach a robotics class at a non-profit in Manhattan. Below are further details and it is expected that the pay rate would be between $20-$30 per hour. Please have interested parties contact Northside Center directly.

We are interested in finding a computer teacher who could start our children out on some simple robotics.

We are now looking for someone to work afternoons Monday to Friday in our computer lab (3:30 to 6), starting right away, and also looking for someone to teach for 3 hours (morning or afternoon) in our summer camp, which runs from June 30 to August 22. We have a small lab of 15 computers, and our population is 6 to 12 year olds, some of whom have emotional and learning problems (Northside is a community mental health agency), and all of whom love working on computers. We are easily reached by train (#2 or 3 or 6) and bus, on the corner of Madison Ave and 110th St.

Please ask any interested computer people you know to get in touch with the coordinator of our After-school program, Daniel Marangiello Ask them to send a letter and resume, and he will get back to them. We also have a website, which might be of interest.
-Judy Thoms

If you want to be removed from this list type "unsubscribe" in the subject area and hit return.

Compiled by Norm Scott
NYCFIRST Registration coordinator

Have a good day


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Click. Whir. Beep. Cool.

Click. Whir. Beep. Cool.

WHEN Rich Press, a photographer, first saw a high school robotics competition, he thought, “In high school, I never came across anything like this, but if I had, it would have changed my life.”

Mr. Press was impressed with the students’ brilliance, but robotics culture thrilled him. “They turn the prevailing culture — where being smart isn’t cool, where girls don’t program computers, where inner-city kids don’t get many engineering scholarships — on its head. Here, these are the coolest kids in school.”

Robotics competitions are organized by a nonprofit organization called FIRST — For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology — which has its headquarters in Manchester, N.H. The competition, which began in 1989 with 28 teams, has grown to 1,300 teams nationally. With engineer mentors, teams of 10 to 20 students form in the fall to compete in local, regional and national competitions in the spring.

Each team starts with an identical robot kit and a challenge. This year, the robots were required to move large balls around a track to score points. The teams invented a wide array of devices for moving the balls: tongs, pincers, grapplers, scoops, even vacuum-powered suction cups.

Of the 64 teams competing in the Northeast Regionals last month at the Javits Center, New Jersey teams took all the field performance awards, but two New York City teams — the Warriors from Alfred E. Smith High School in the Bronx and the Harlem Knights of Frederick Douglass Academy and Rice High School in Manhattan — won Judge’s Awards, which recognize a team’s “unique efforts, performance, or dynamics.”

Everything about these competitions is photogenic — the game, the “pit” where robots are serviced, the referees and the judges. It is Mr. Press’s team portraits, however, that best tell these students’ story.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Robotics Training at Polytechnic U

Hi everybody,
Region 24 has set-up a series of robotics symposia at Polytechnic University. The lectures will take place during the school day in May and June.
Attached you'll find the flier. In the meantime, they will also pay for you to go to Lego Robotics training taught by me, at the Gateway National Recreation Center. It is by Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn.
If you look at the flier, you'll find the contact information. I do not know what is planned for the Polytechnic symposia, or what they mean when they say "symposia."
Regarding the Lego training, it will be held on the Saturdays of June and the 2 days immediately following the last day teachers report. I have been given a bunch of RCX kits to work with, but I will focus exclusively on gearing, simple and complex, design, and electricity (motors, generators and capacitors). The course will not use the RCX brick. There will be no programming. The course is designed to increase your awareness and comfort with the gears. It is a nearly completely hands-on, work at your own pace, designing workshop. I believe breakfast and lunch will be served.
I intend to have you all use the gearboxes and limited slip clutches, and create a car powered by a rubberband (I made the plans for that one myself.) and design and build your own capacitor powered car. In the end, we will race them.
Anyway, the contact information for registering is on the attached flier. Please email the people listed as they are administering all of this. My role is simply as an observer of the Polytechnic symposia and the instructor of the Saturday workshops.
Thanks everyone, Mike Koumoullos.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

stonington retreat 2008: an intensive technology retreat for educators

This summer Vision Ed. will be hosting the 14th annual Stonington Retreat in New York City, a four-day intensive workshop aimed at empowering teachers, parents, and administrators to effectively integrate creative technologies into their classrooms and after-school programs. With hands-on workshops in Robotics, Computer Animation, Game Design, Digital Video and Blogging, participants will walk away with the resources needed to start or continue a technology program at their school or organization. For over a decade, Stonington has provided a space for educators from all over the world to engage in intensive training and high-level discussion about the future of education and technology. Join us this year and see what it's all about!

The retreat will take place this summer July 8th-11th, 2008 at New York University's Kimmel Center in lower Manhattan.

To find out more, please visit:
Register at:

Featured speakers:

Laura Allen, Vision Ed Inc founder and president, has over 16 years of experience implementing creative technologies in the classroom and has worked with giants in the field such as Seymour Papert. This will be her 14th year leading the Stonington Retreat.

Mitchell Resnick is the Director of both the Okawa Center and the Lifelong Kindergarten group at the MIT Media Lab and will be leading hands-on workshops in 2 technologies he has helped to develop: the PICO Cricket and Scratch software.

Vision Ed. believes that effective work with technology can have an enormous impact on learning and teaching. Our mission is to share this understanding with educators and learners to inspire educational excellence and school reform.

Please email or call with any questions.

Emilie Reiser
Retreat Coordinator

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Marcio Noguchi Receives Volunteer Award in Tokyo

April 29, 2008
Good afternoon everyone,

Great news from Tokyo!!! Marcio Noguchi received a well deserved award at the FLL Open Asian Championship. In the photo below Noriko Morin [FIRST Registration Coordinator] is presenting the award to Marcio. In addition Norm Scott sitting next to Marcio in bottom photo was acknowledged for his superb refereeing over the three day event.


"Ridder Kids" say hello from Tokyo

Email from Gary Israel,

April 30, 2008

Good afternoon everyone,

It has been a very exciting time for the "Ridder Kids" since arriving in Tokyo this past weekend. Everyone on the team is so amazed at how clean the subways, streets etc. are. The kids are really enjoying the politeness of the Japanese and their different customs i.e bowing.The students have been going to Japanese restaurants to get a taste of Japanese food.

The first photo below taken of the "Ridder Kids" was in the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium the sight of the The 1964 Summer Olympics and the location of the 2008 FLL Open Asian Championship. Each of the 25 countries (56 teams) presented their banners and flags during the opening ceremonies.

The second photo shows the Ridder Kids competing at the FLL Table. During the first round match they scored a perfect 400, only accomplished by seven other FLL teams. The team finished the competition in the top half of the draw.

At the closing ceremonies yesterday the "Ridder Kids" received Honorable Mention for their hard work raising the funds needed to travel to Japan to compete at the FLL Open Asian Championship. In addition as a sign of "Gracious Professionalism" it was announced that the "Ridder Kids" were inviting the members of the Little Red School House FLL Team to join them for dinner to show their appreciation. They were the FLL team that contacted me recently to say that the students on their team had held cake sales to raise money for the Ridder Kids. See third photo of both teams.

This afternoon the team returned from a day of touring Tokyo by bus with stops at the Meiji Shrine ( see photo below), East Garden at the Imperial Palace, and finally shopping at the Akasaka shopping district.

As we prepare to leave on Thursday I want to THANK everyone who made this trip of a lifetime possible for these 10 exceptional students. I especially want to acknowledge all the hard work of the principal, Claralee Irobunda who's extraordinary efforts made this trip a reality. Of course the team's coach, Harold Smith and the other chaperones should be applauded for all they have done for the students on this trip.

As someone who has been traveling with high school students around the country over the past 9 years I can honestly say that I have never been prouder of a group of students. They represented their school, city and country as fine examples of what NYC public school students are capable of doing.


Tokyo Redux - We Get Letters

Greetings Norm,
Hope you remember me. I'm the guy with the red cap and the camera. I've sent you a photo attachment. I think the picture best sums up your role in FLL OAC and at the same time enjoying it. Feel free to put it up on your site. Looking forward to meet up with you someday at another FLL tournament.
Coach of The Flaming Blades Singapore

Great to hear from you Firdaus. Keep us posted on how things are going in Singapore robotics.

Hi Norm, this is Sergio from Mexico City. I am trying to find a video streaming to follow the competition in Tokyo. My son is there with the Cedros team. Haven't found anything yet. Do you know if we can follow the event online? Thank you!

Posted by Sergio Sánchez to NORM'S ROBOTICS at April 28, 2008 12:26 PM

I received this comment too late to find Sergio's son but the team from Mexico seemed to be having a good time.

Friday, May 02, 2008

NJ team Landroids

Please let your readers know that NJ team Landroids has many of the 2008 FLL World Festival webcast available through our website. If any team is interested, they can download these videos.

Btw, please say hi to St. Clare's Transformer team, we met up again in Atlanta. It is always nice to see someone from "home". Many thanks to her greetings and encouragements.

Pearl Hwang
Team Landroids

2008 Robotics Park - It Isn't Easy Being Green

2008 Robotics Park
"It Isn't Easy Being Green "
Saturday, May 3, 2008
Held at: Martin Middle School
East Providence, RI

Dear Teachers, Students, Parents, Family Members and Friends,
We would like to invite you and your family to attend "Robotics Park", the 16th annual spring event of the Rhode Island School of the Future (RISF) and the largest K-12 robotic event in the country. Student created robotic presentations and demonstrations will be open to the public on Saturday, May 3rd from 10:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Martin Middle School in East Providence. Touring the park is open to the public and free of charge. This annual event is our celebration event for National Science and Technology Month and a time for students, educators, parents and the community to appreciate and celebrate student inventiveness. The main activities of the day include student demonstrations from the Robotic Animal Design Challenge, the Robotic Interactive Challenge, the Chain Reaction Machine event, the Robotics Park Parade, and the Creature Feature Feeding Frenzy. The Park events also include Lego Jewelry Design Activities.
Robotics Park is filled with student designed and built robotic creations. Rhode Island students of all ages will be exhibiting an array of interesting robotic inventions that they have created in school or in after-school activities..
Students have spent a great deal of time researching, designing, building and programming robots that will be sure to delight and entertain you. Overall we expect over 150 robots, the work of hundreds of students, to be included in the16th annual event. Demonstration animal robots will fill the Robotic Park Zoo cages and will imitate behaviors exhibited by the real animals within the confines of student created realistic environments. Interactive robots will tickle your imagination in surprising ways.There will also be opportunities to take part in hands-on activities designed to engage visitors in the design process and an opportunity to watch our seventh annual Robotic Chain Reaction event as it is triggered several times throughout the day and the Robotics Park Parade as it winds it way through the cafeteria of Martin Middle School. New this year will be an oppotunity to watch feeding time at our Creature Feature Feeding Frenzy.
We hope you and your family will join us for the festivities. It will be a wonderful opportunity to see the minds of our youngsters at work and to learn new things ourselves. For more information go to:
See you at Robotics Park!!
Rebekah Gendron
Director, Robotics Park 2008
Martin Middle School
111 Brown Street
East Providence, Rhode Island 02914
Telephone: (401) 435-7819
From the west, north or south
Take 95N or 95S to 195 East across the Washington Bridge. Take the Broadway exit (6) off 195 East. At the end of the exit take a left onto Warren Avenue. Take the third right onto Brown St.. Travel through three stop signs and you will come to the entrance to Martin Middle School on the right hand side. Stay to the right for the Main Office entrance.
From the east
Take 195 West to the East Providence Exit. At the end of the exit take a left onto South Broadway. At the first intersection take a left onto Warren Avenue. Take the sixth right onto Brown St.. Travel through three stop signs and you will come to the entrance to Martin Middle School on the right hand side. Stay to the right for the Main Office entrance.

St. Clare’s Transformers back from Atlanta!

Hi Norm,

Below is a thank you note I sent to our parish and sponsprs in regard to the World Festival. It kind of sums up the experience.

Just thought I would fill you in how we did! Have lots of great pictures and memories!!! If you could blog this or portion of it, please do so. I thought it would be nice to let other how great is was.

I want to thank you as well for connecting me with Maureen Reilly (who did the story on us for I will send you some photos later. It was truly amazing.

I am sure your trip to Japan for that robotics event abroad will be fantastic! Best of luck to that team as well! Enjoy and thanks...

Mary Lee


St. Clare’s Transformers back from Atlanta!

The St. Clare’s Transformers truly felt it was an honor to represent our school and parish community and all of New York State at this World Festival in Atlanta, Georgia, from April 16-20. The F.I.R.S.T. Robotics event was amazing! Every day was better than the next!

There were so many memorable moments -- meeting people from other countries and sharing ideas with them and learning cultural dances and games, listening to President Bush (Sr.) at the opening ceremonies, singing and dancing in the Georgia Dome and Centennial Park, frolicking about at the Carnival and watching a huge fireworks display, visiting the Georgia Aquarium, CNN and the New World of Coca Cola -- not to mention all the robotics-related events.

In regard to placement with our runs, we scored a 380 (out of 400) and finished close to the top 10 on Day One during the preliminary practice rounds in the FIRST LEGO League competition. On Day Two, we hit a 350 to finish in the middle of the pack (around 40th in a field of 83 teams from around the world). Not bad considering that 24 of those teams were the top teams from their countries and all the others were the top teams in their states. It was awe inspiring looking up into the lively stands from the floor of the Georgia Dome to launch our robots. We also saw the big robots in the high school division, which was another whole learning experience!

Truly the World Festival is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. For those who attended, may they always carry with them FIRST's message of gracious professionalism and global unity throughout their lives. Only then can we truly make a difference in the world, and certainly that is what St. Clare’s LEGO Robotics is all about.

Not only do our team members serve as active members of the DEP’s Adopt-A-Bluebelt program and assist special needs players in the Challenger division at the Great Kills Little League, but because of our Power Puzzle project, we will now be one of three schools partnering with the Staten Island Zoo's educational staff and the New York Power Authority on a special program next year as we continue to work toward greening our zoo and the community and spreading the power of the LEGO! We have another public presentation on tap on June 21 the Staten Island Museum that is being sponsored by Con Edison from 1 -3 p.m. We plan to make our presentation on alternative energy fun and interactive! All are invited!

We cannot thank everyone at St. Clare's – starting with Monsignor Murphy, Mrs. Rossicone and Mrs. Gallagher -- and all our sponsors enough for their support in our journey to reach the World Festival. Whether you gave a donation or contributed to the fundraisers or just wished us well, you played a key role in making this dream come true for our students.

With sincere gratitude,

Mary Lee, head coach of the St. Clare’s Transformers

Team Transformers includes: Alanna Bergstrom, Adrianno Corso, Katie Geraghty, Ian Grice, Thomas Grimaldi, Matthew Gulotta, Shannon Long, Joseph Maggio, James McKeon, Steven Milazzo, Judy Muller, Meagan O'Connor, Amanda O'Keefe, Michelle Pagano, Christopher Piccirello, Paul Piccirello, James Pugliese and Serena Zinsley, and coaches Mary Lee and Barbara Grimaldi.

Main sponsors include: Con Edison, Verizon, Dr. Anna Marie Olsen, the Staten Island Geological Society, the Knights of Columbus (the Staten Island and Stolzenthaler Councils), Northfield Savings Bank Foundation, Dr. Theodore Atlas Foundation, the Staten Island War Memorial Ice Skating Rink, Special Tees, Holtermann’s Bakery. Special thanks to the McNamara family for its donation in memory of Helen O’Gara, as well as other St. Clare school and parish families.

Packard Collegiate coach Maureen Reilly was at the World Festival and wrote and published a story on the St. Clare’s Robotics team and all the practicing they this year. The online story appears on (The website is

Copy of the story is below:

How do you get to the FLL World Festival? Practice, practice, practice.

Practice, practice, practice is what the St. Clare’s FIRST LEGO League (FLL) team, the Transformers from Staten Island, NY are doing to prepare for the FLL World Festival later this week at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. The Transformers practice 5 to 6 times a week from 2 to 4 hours per session in the science lab at their school. They practice with multiple robots on multiple tournament tables while working toward that perfect 400 point score. ”The pizza delivery man knows us well, parents send in nourishment, and maintenance is ready to set up cots for us!” says their dedicated coach, Mary Lee.

The Transformers are a team of 18 students, ten boys and eight girls from 11-14 years of age. Most of the team has experience with LEGO MINDSTORMS, participating for 1-3 years in a minor league before joining the ”Majors” (which is the team at St. Clare’s that competes in FLL tournaments). All 18 team members along with their family, friends, and coach are attending the festivities in Atlanta.

”This is the second year that the Transformers are using a LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT robot. We now recognize the NXT as a more advanced machine with tremendous possibilities,” explains Coach Lee.

About FLL Events
Each year FLL teams embark on an adventurous challenge based on current, real-world issues. Students between 9 and 14 years of age build and program a robot to complete a set number of missions in 21⁄2 minutes (the robot game), present research on a given topic (the research presentation), and share how they designed and programmed their robot (the technical presentation). This year’s FLL theme, “Power Puzzle” challenges teams to use robotics to understand and create solutions for one of today's most critical environmental issues: energy management and conservation.

The Robot Game
The Transformers found the solar panel mission to be the most difficult robot task in the Power Puzzle challenge. Four separate groups of students worked on troubleshooting the mission, each with their own robot. The biggest trouble was getting the solar panel to stay on. ”We finally tackled this by adding extra pieces to the panel that allowed it to hang, and we added little claws that helps it grab on to the roof if it starts to flip over.” Each group helped one other succeed by sharing ideas and building for each other. ”The frustration was high at times, but it brought us closer and taught us to battle together.”

The Transformers are excited that the robots they are taking to the World Festival can score 400 points provided the opposing team does not get the satellite challenge first. Let’s hope the Transformers make it!

The Research Project
The Transformers conducted extensive research in their community on alternative enery options. They visited a home with solar panels to see how they are setup and work. They investigated their school, local zoo, and a bakery, and then researched similar structures in different areas using alternative energy and energy providers. The team even went to the Fresh Kills Landfill in Staten Island to learn about a methane gas collection system and to explore the possibility of using the area as a wind farm. The team saw that fish were dying in a local pond, discovered that the oxygen levels were low and requested that a solar aerator pump be installed as part of the Department of Environmental Protection’s Adopt a Bluebelt program. They also held a public forum on alternative energy for the community and presented their findings on all our research and allowed special guests in the field to speak. The Transformers live up to their name in transforming their community in green ways!

The Technical Presentation
The Transformers played with different robot designs including a horizontal design that they found on NXTLOG. The team played with different attachments, including a big lasso type piece that swings down over the corn and later the uranium to gather those pieces before coming back to base (after it hits the rail car and brings the coal to base). Other attachments include a big box for catching the oil and a flat piece to push objects like the dam and the power line.

For the programming, the team relies on motor rotations and time rather than sensors. Although the robot has a third motor, the team tries to limit its use, using the law of motion to swing an arm forward rather than extra programming. The team also works to multi-task when programming by either reusing programs to complete additional missions, or by completing a number of tasks in one area before returning the robot to base. The students discovered one innovative shortcut by using the robot itself to be the wave turbine, having it end up in the ocean at the end of the 21⁄2 minutes.

The Journey to the World Festival
The team has been busy with practices and fundraising but also finds time to play sports together to ease the pressure of competing on a global level. They also have been practicing some dance moves for a special show in Atlanta. Just last week the Transformers participated in a FLL Tri-State Tournament at the Javits Center in NYC where they not only got a chance for extra pratice, but they met Mayor Mike Bloomburg as well.

While all 18 team members are prepared to play the robot game at the World Festival, some will act as ambassadors and greet attending teams, some will work as team photographers, and others as the pit crew. We look forward to seeing this team in action at the Georgia Dome!

Team Transfromers includes: Alanna Bergstrom, Adrianno Corso, Katie Geraghty, Ian Grice, Thomas Grimaldi, Matthew Gulotta, Shannon Long, Joseph Maggio, James McKeon, Steven Milazzo, Judy Muller, Meagan O'Connor, Amanda O'Keefe, Michelle Pagano, Christopher Piccirello, Paul Piccirello, James Pugliese and Serena Zinsley, and coaches Mary Lee and Barbara Grimaldi.