Monday, June 29, 2009

Robotics and Technology News

A newsletter detailing some of he events that the Bronx schools participated in this June.

Bernie DiCristofalo

Robotics and Technology Consultant
Leadership LSO
1230 Zerega Avenue
Bronx, New York 10462

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Veryl Greene Robotic Camp at the AMNH

The robotics camp at the American Museum of Natural History seems to have gone
well. On the last day we had a little mini game tournament on the Mars mat. The
parents, nannies, & younger siblings came to see the tournament - the classroom
was packed. Every team was successful at a mission or two, which made the kids &
parents very proud - I received a lot of hugs from the kids and grateful thanks
from the parents; I just wish I had the pamphlets on the FLL, because half of
them want information about getting robotics into their private schools. I did
give them a hand-out of websites to find information about robotics. It was cool
being able to use the Rose Center to learn about Mars & the rovers - it was a
nice experience for me as well.

Brief blurb on

Ms. Veryl Greene
Robotics Consultant
FLL Robotics Planning Committee <>

My Gift From Tokyo

In April 2008, I went to Tokyo to assist in the international open tournament they were holding. I was asked to be a referee, my first experience doing that. And this was a high pressure event, so I needed lots of help, which I got from many people, especially a college student named Tomo, who was my partner and spoke excellent English.

The organizer of the tournament, Kamoshida-san, visited NYC last summer and brought me this wonderful gift to show his appreciation. I took it with me to the partners' conf in Manchester this past May to show Noriko Morin (who was also in Tokyo with us) but found she had retired. So Nancy asked Courtney to take these pics. There's a matching pair of shorts that I don't have the nerve to wear for fear I'll be attacked by a samurai.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

NYCFIRST FLL UPDATE 1: Registration for Smart Moves is Open

NYCFIRST FLL UPDATE 1: Registration for Smart Moves is Open

June 11, 2009

Keep track of the latest news at:

54 teams registered. See link on the blog for a list.

1. New FLL registration system
2. Smart Moves: Transforming Transportation
3. Software Update 2.0
4. NYC’s Department of Youth and Community Development and FLL partner for a special tournament!
5. Why FLL?
6. Morris HS Robotics Team to be honored by NY Yankees


NYC’s Department of Youth and Community Development special tournament!

June 13 at Polytechninc/NYU in Brooklyn from 8 AM-3 PM

These are the 40 teams that never had the opportunity to take part in our tournaments. Here is an opportunity for you to stop by and bring some people to show them what FLL is all about. Performance only. More details below.

FAMIS codes
NYC schools need to register first before they can pay using the FAMIS system. You need to purchase both. One is for the registration fee and the other is for the field setup kit.

Item #: 800055470
Description: FLL TEAM REGISTRATION 2009 - #990305 - MUST INCLUDE TEAM # ON ORDER Cost: $200.00 plus shipping

Item #: 800055489
Description: FLL FIELD SET UP KIT - #991217 - MUST INCLUDE TEAM # ON ORDER Cost: $65 plus shipping.

The vendor's name is PITSCO LEGO DACTA and their phone number is (800) 362-4308.

Renewing My FLL Vows

You have not been getting many updates this past year. I tried to get most of the information up on the blog. I also was using a targeted email list to the teams that went on to Javits.

In May I represented the NYC FLL Planning committee up in Manchester NH at the North American partners’ conference. Most of the states were represented, along with Ontario, Haiti and Colombia. Spending 4 days with so many people committed to FLL put me in touch with the big picture.

As usual, the FLL staff at FIRST treated us royally. Nancy Paul, who has been one of our most precious assets at FIRST, is taking on a different role, more focused on the international partners. I will miss having regular contact with her. Nancy’s skill set is enormous and her people skills are enormous, despite being a Red Sox fan. Luckily, Betsy Daniels will be taking on Nancy’s role, something she was doing before Nancy came on board. Betsy was our original contact at FIRST and has always been very supportive of what we are doing here in NYC.

I was shocked to find that Noriko Morin, who has been so essential to sorting out registration and many other issues, has decided to retire to North Carolina. She was always available to deal with any kind of problem and she will be missed be everyone involved in FLL. She will still be involved in some ways, but I will miss being able to pick up the phone and get answers before I hang up.

Being away from the NYC educational/political scene can be a good thing, especially in the FIRST environment where the focus is on creating wonderful experiences for kids - truly Children First. It is nice to see so many people who understand one of the prime missions in education. There is a great mix of educators, engineers and people from the business community. Many got involved as parents. The Novaks, a couple from Arkansas started out that way and now are handling the FLL in the state. They mentioned that Kris Bretton, one of the former members of an Arkansas high school team called "The Bomb Squad," is now helping us in NY as a mentor. Kris has been invaluable on the FLL Planning Committee. (He called me later that evening to warn me to not corrupt the Novaks with my big city ways.)

FLL is expected to have over 8000 teams in the US and Canada and 8000 more in 45 countries. That's over 16,000, so get your order in early.

1. New FLL registration system
Registration on the brand new system opened on May 4. You should find the process easier and smoother. And I have new capabilities to manage the process, including the ability to see what you ate for lunch. That gang at FIRST has many magical powers.

You will not be assigned a team number until you go through checkout. So if you try to register but don’t have a team number, you didn’t register. Go back in and finish up. Sometimes you will have to start over as the incomplete teams get flushed sometimes.

You still don’t have to pay right away if you use a PO (you don’t have to put in a PO number) or a check.

The purchaser is separated from the coach and can add a coach and assistant coach later. If you pay but have no coach I will list you temporarily as the coach. Shoot me an email when you have somebody.

This year we may use this system to have you sign up for FLL events, including the borough qualifiers and other events.

The last I checked 54 NYC teams registered. (See the blog for the list.) The list includes info as to whether you paid (True/False is the designation on my printout.) If you see a discrepancy contact me.

2. Smart Moves: Transforming Transportation

Can FIRST LEGO League teams transform the way we look at transportation? The key to the 2009 “Smart Move” Challenge is accessing people, places, goods and services in the safest, most efficient way possible. In this journey, teams will consider many modes of transportation beyond their daily routine and streamline their options by making smart moves! Kickoff is September 3, 2009!!

Scott Evans has outdone himself. What a mat! What a wonderfully designed game. What surprises, with one of the most beautifully designed structures I’ve seen. And field set up kit assembly time has been cut drastically. (BY THE WAY, DON’T FORGET TO ORDER AT LEAST ONE OF THESE WHEN YOU REGISTER!)

Scott did his much awaited annual presentation on and it was one of the best I’ve seen, with lost of personal input as to the motivation behind SMART MOVES. Scott presented some very powerful ideas behind Smart Moves. He pointed out that every time you get on the road whether walking, biking or driving, you are putting your trust in the hands of others. Technology is 50 years behind. Railroad crossings are differ little from what they were a hundred years ago.

He was peppered with questions as we went over the rules and this being so early, he will have time to make changes based on the input in time for Sept. 3.

Expect a robust and exciting season.

3. Software Update 2.0
There is an impending release of a software update to the retail MINDSTORMS package. However, this will only bring the retail package to the same 2.0 level that the Education package has, and is already included in the FLL Robot Set. They will have a few features available to them that Education will not have access to, but nothing from a programming standpoint that will impact effectiveness in the FLL competition.

4. NYC’s Department of Youth and Community Development and FLL partner for a special tournament!

When: Saturday, June 13

Where: Polytechnic/NYU on Jay St in downtown Brooklyn.

NYC’s DYCD and FLL have partnered to provide 40 after school programs an opportunity to compete in a local tournament. The tournament will take place from 9:00-3:00 on June 13th at NYU-Poly. This is part of a pilot program that DYCD has undertaken with the generous support of The Wallace Foundation.

Coaches for the teams have attended a training to get familiar with the kit of parts and this year’s challenge, Climate Connections. Teams will be judged on all the categories normally associated with a FLL competition.

We look forward to this tournament and are excited about new students getting to participate in what we know is a beneficial program to garner interest in science, technology, and math.

The NYC/NJ FLL Planning Committee

5. Why FLL?
Teachers who get involved in FLL say it is the best thing they do all year. Registration is open now. The season runs from the beginning of the school year through mid-March, with borough qualifying tournaments and a citywide at the Javits Center which will take place concurrently with the high school events (FTC and FRC).

Learn about all FIRST events:

FLL is for ages 9-14. Elementary, middle and even 9th graders in high school can take part. We had 150 teams from NYC take part in this past year's Climate Connections game.

Learn more about FIRST LEGO League:

Register a team (you can pay later):

Follow NYC robotics on my robotics blog.

Training and support are provided. Contact me if your school is interested.

6. Morris HS Robotics Team honored by NY Yankees

By Gary Israel

On Wednesday June 3rd the New York Yankees honored the Morris FIRST Robotics Team on the field at Yankee Stadium prior to the 7:05pm game between the New York Yankees and the Texas Rangers.

As some of you know the Morris FIRST Robotics team has been honored on the field at the old Yankee Stadium in 2002,2003,2004,2005,2006,2007and 2008. Of course this year the team members were especially excited about going on the field at the new Yankee Stadium.

While the team was on the field a recap of this year's team accomplishments below was read over the Public Address system.

2009 Morris FIRST Robotics Team

This year the 2009 Morris FIRST Robotics team is celebrating their 10th year competing in FIRST robotics competitions around the country. Over the past 10 years the team has competed at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Houston Texas, Richmond Virginia, Atlanta Georgia, Trenton New Jersey, Orlando Florida, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia Pennsylvania.

This past March the team competed at the New York City FIRST Robotics Regional for the ninth consecutive year where they reached the semifinals. The event held at the Jacob Javits Center was the largest FIRST Robotics Regional Competition in world.

Two weeks later the team traveled to Philadelphia for the first time where they won the Philadelphia FIRST Robotics Competition, defeating the # 3 seed in the quarterfinals, # 2 seed in the semifinals and # 1 seed in the finals.

In April the Morris Robotics Team competed in the 2009 FIRST Robotics International Championships in Atlanta, Georgia.

The Morris team is the only New York City FIRST Robotics Team to have competed in the FIRST Robotics International Championships for the past six consecutive years.

This spring the team was highlighted in a Forbes magazine article on FIRST Robotics.

An article on the team appears in the June issue of Popular Science.

The Morris FIRST Robotics team will also be the subject of a book on FIRST Robotics written by NY Times Best Selling author Neal Bascomb.


Thanks to Gary for inviting me to the game and giving me a chance to see the stadium for the first time. But the Yankees lost. Don’t let it happen again Gary. (And no wise cracks, Nancy.)

Important links:

Lego Team Registration Page


Robotics in New York City

US First Lego Team Resources

Next Update: When I decide to get off the beach


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