Thursday, September 30, 2010

Teaching Stem with Robotics - Saturday, Oct. 30, 2010 - NYU/Poly

Registration closes Friday Oct 2 at midnight, Qualifying event fee, rules change, did you pay yet?, training

1. Registration closes Friday night at midnight. If you know of a school wanting to register tell them to do so ASAP.

2. Qualifying fees
Now that we are heading into preparing for qualifying events, we wan to remind veteran teams and inform new teams that there is a fee involved for each team in order to help make thees events as meaningful as possible for your students. Depending on the tournament these fees go towards covering costs of trophies, renting chairs and tables, tee-shirts for the judges and volunteers. (And food for them too.) Last year the fee was $30 and we are trying to keep it the same but are looking at the budgets.

There will be no fee for the Javits tournament in March.

If you are in Queens and Mike K hasn't contacted you about the Queens Google group email him:
3. A rule has changed since the kickoff
Scott Evans has deleted Ruling 3 and replaced it with the new, sparkly Ruling 10 on Robot Game Rulings. It goes a little something like this:

The LEGO manufactured “color” sensor, which is the only light-activated sensor in the retail Mindstorms NXT robot set, is now given the green light as an allowable sensor in the FLL robot game. Consider it added to the list in Rule 6. Testing has shown that this sensor is about equal in capability to the standard “light” sensor for robot game purposes, so you are allowed to use it as a color sensor or as a light sensor – it doesn’t matter. Only the LEGO manufactured sensors are allowed. Other brands such as HiTechnic brand are still not allowed.

4. If you haven't paid you have until Oct. 15. The longer you wait the longer it will take to get your Field Set up. That is a very important issue, particularly for rookie teams. You have to start getting the kids to build them in order to move forward. If you paid but haven't gotten your materials - contact Deanna Bishop at Pitsco. Email me if you have problems.

5. We have started working on a training session. Nothing set in stone yet but Oct. 16 is a target. You would have to being your robotic kit (not the Field Set up). No room for kids - coaches only. Email me if you have a special situation where you want to bring one child and I will see if it is possible. Check my blog for updates - upper right hand side panel.

917-992-3734 - but email is better

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Queens Registration Form is Ready

Hello all,

The link below will take you to the registration site for the Queens
Qualifying Tournament.  It is the only way to register for the Queens
tournament.  This year there appear to be many more teams in Queens.
There might possibly be more teams in Queens than slots at our
tournament.  This won't be clear until teams officially drop out.

If more teams register than there is room for, we will handle it in
this manner.  Organizations that register a single team will be given
priority.  That means that they will all get it.  Organizations with
multiple teams will be asked to make a choice.  Choice #1: Run a
tournament for your teams and participate with only a portion of your
teams.  Choice #2: Compete some of your teams in Queens and some
elsewhere (with Norm Scott's approval).  Choice #3: Compete all of
your teams elsewhere (with Norm Scott's approval).

To Norm, Mark and Rich:  Please forward this link to any new team that
is not part of the FLLQueens Google Group yet.

To all new teams:  You must become part of this google group.  In
order to do this you must email me:  In your
email please provide a call back number and the best time for me to
call you.  It is important that you have internet access when we
speak.  Alternatively you can call me at 718-361-2032 x1331.  I will
have internet but I can't guarantee I will be at my desk because I
teach two periods a day.

Good luck to all,

Mike Koumoullos
Queens Qualifying Tournament Coordinator

Thursday, September 09, 2010

NYCFIRST Lego League Kickoff

NOTE: The event will be begin at the Pfizer Auditorium which is located in the Dibner Library Building.

NYC FIRST Lego League Kickoff

Saturday September 25, 2010 at 10:00 AM-2:30 PM
Polytechnic Institute of NYU, Brooklyn, NY


10:00-10:10 AM: Welcome and Introductions (All Teams)
(Pfizer Auditorium)

10:10-10:45 AM: Body Forward Challenge Overview (All Teams)
(Pfizer Auditorium)

11:00-12:00 PM: Game Overview (All Teams)
(Rogers Hall [RH] - Room 116)

12:15-1:15 PM: Research Assignment Overview (Rookie Teams)
(Jacobs Academic Building - Room 475)

1:30-2:30 PM: Team Organization (Rookie Teams)
(Jacobs Academic Building - Room 475)

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

NYCFIRST UPDATE: Sept. 7, 2010 - the Challenge is live!

Welcome back to the new school year.

140 teams have registered so far. Registration will close at the end of the month or when all Field Set Up Kits run out. YOU MUST ORDER AT LEAST ONE FSK TO PRACTICE BUT IF YOU HAVE MORE THAN ONE TEAM YOU DO NOT NEED AN FSK FOR EACH.


KICKOFF Sat. SEPT. 25 at NYU/Polytech - Jay St.- 6 Metrotech
Starts 9am and runs till around 1.
See the Challenge set up for you to ask questions.
Experience coaches to give you tips.
Check the blog side panel for updates.

You can bring kids. You don't have to pre-register but for planning purposes email me if you are coming with a rough number of how many people.

That same weekend is the World  Maker Faire and you are invited to bring your team, either after the kickoff or the next day.

Please fill out this form if you're interested:
or email

Click link for details.

Experienced Coach Veryl Greene Help Links (click here)

Contact Veryl Greene ( with questions about the robot,
performance, technical; 

This came on from FIRST:

Check out our video of Scott showing the game to Yoky Matsuoka, which you can also show at your tournaments.

1.       Robot SetsA quick note from Jr.FLL and FLL Product Development Manager Amy Mitchell-Hartson: The FLL robot set is currently on back order for U.S. orders.  The recent shipment was held up by customs, and is not expected to be released until September 13th.  I recognize that this is bad timing, but unfortunately there is nothing that we can do to have customs release them at a faster rate (unless one of you know someone uber special).  If teams contact you regarding their robot set order, please let them know that we will process all orders ASAP.

Please encourage teams to start the project and build the Field Setup for now to keep the season moving. Speaking of the Field Setup…

2.       Rookies and FSKs:  Approximately 23% of registered teams for the 2010 FLL Body Forward season are rookie teams.  One thing that the rookie teams may not be aware of is that they need to have access to a Field Setup Kit (FSK).  In your email blasts to teams, if you could please remind teams that they need access to a FSK and that the ordering period ends in a few weeks, we would be very much appreciative.

Here are some links from the norms robotics blog side panel:

Contact Norm
Click below to see a list of all registered teams so far for the 2010/11 season (As of Sept 1.)

Schedule for 2010/11 Season



SAT. JAN. 8, 2011 -9-4





Sunday, September 05, 2010

Veryl Greene Help Links

Contact Veryl Greene ( with questions about the robot,
performance, technical; 
I even may be able to visit a few rookie teams
(that are not too out-of-way). Also, on my blog I will be giving tips &
posting useful links to FLL teams in preparation. 

I've put together & have been using with new coaches "A FIRST LEGO
League Challenge Guide to Success" (see attachment) look it over to see
if this might be helpful & may be we can make if available to coaches.I
know most of this info can be found somewhere on the website, but this
is just a quick reference & reminder guide.

Ms. Veryl Greene
Robotics Consultant 

A FIRST LEGO League Challenge Guide to Success
(For Rookie coaches & even Veterans)
V. “LeGo-Bots Lady” Greene
Overview: What to Keep in Mind
         It’s about the learning process & having fun!
         Don’t stress about learning the programming – There are good tutorials:
Kelly, James Floyd. LEGO Mindstorms NXT-G Programming Guide. 2nd Ed. Berkley, CA: Apress, 2010.
Kelly, James & Daudelin, Jonathan. FIRST LEGO League: The Unofficial Guide. San Francisco, CA: No Starch Press, 2008.
Emphasize the importance of the commitment by team members & their parents; making the practices & being available for the Qualifier Tournament & the Finals. Send a letter home about practice/tournament dates & times, for the team member & their parents to sign. Also, send reminders home of upcoming events. Solicit the help of parents & colleagues at practices and/or tournaments (and be sure to express your appreciation for their support).
Let the kids become the experts! Remember this is a kid project; you are
there for support & guidance – encourage & ask thought provoking questions to help them come up with their own solutions to the challenges.
Getting Started
Explanation of what the competition is about and the various awards.
Viewing of the FIRST Compilation DVD & General Guide to the FLL
What is this year’s theme?
What’s in the kit?
Learning & identifying the parts of the kit. Setting up some sort of
organization of the parts.
Field Set Up
         What is this year’s challenge? View the robot challenge/game on the internet.
         Group team members in pairs & assign field set up building.
         Team discussion/brainstorming of ideas of how the tasks on the field can be
accomplished (someone can take notes).
Print out copies of the Rules from the website & Rubrics from the Coach’s
         If you are building the tabletop (not absolutely necessary but nice if you
                  can), the Table Construction specifications are below.
Research Project
         Print out the Research Project topic from the Internet.
         Have all members of the team do some initial research on the topic and share
what information they found & resources.
         Team discussion/brainstorming of ideas of what the team would like to do
for their project.
         Consult the experts on the topic – Internet, agencies, etc.
         Identify which team members are going to be responsible for the project &
                  Presentation. However, any member of the team should be able to
                  have input.
         Give your research presentation pizzazz!
Robot Challenge
If possible, have more than one NXT robotics kit – one-per/3-4 kids.
Design different models.
Be aware of the Parts Rules, see below.
Introduce the use of sensors, simple programming for the sensors, & motors.
Have the team discuss & design robots specifically for the challenge.
An easy & free download LEGO Digital Designer is available @ for designing robots & attachments.
Then have the team decide on the best robot to accomplish the
missions & make a duplicate.
Discussion of the missions on the field:
                  What needs to be accomplished?
                  What attachments or sensors are needed?
                  What missions can be combined together?
Have the students work in pairs or threes, with each group being
responsible for a mission or group of missions.
Identify specialties, who are the main robot designers, builders, 
programmers, & handlers (the members who will go to the tables at
the tournament) are, although all should be able to have input in any
         The handlers work in pairs: one controls the robot and the other is the
“spotter” who helps put on attachments & removes objects in base out of the way. The team can have 1-4 pairs of handlers for the different rounds. Usually, there are 4 rounds. The highest score of all the rounds is used to determine place.
Technical/Robot Design
         Identify the two members who will present the robot to the judges for
                  the Robot Design Award. They will have to demonstrate the robot,
                  explain the attachments & use of sensors, as well as, programming.
                  (Printouts of programming would be useful)
Teamwork Award
         The team will have to explain to the judges how they worked together to
                  tackle the challenge.
         Ideas: Develop a website and/or blog for the team. (Research Project
members could be responsible for it).
Team Spirit Award
         Team T-shirts, caps, costumes, etc. Signs. Bookmarks & flyers about your
Research Project.
         Cheering squad - Have students, teachers, parents come to the tournaments.
Champion’s Award
         Robot Design 25%, Robot Performance 25%, Project Presentation 25%,
Teamwork 25%
Consent Forms
         Each member attending each tournament must bring a FIRST Consent Form.
This will be available online to download.
Team Information Form
         Fill out one form per team & bring it to the tournament. This will be
available online to download.
Stay informed! Check weekly:
         Game Clarifications & Rule Update webpage – - Calendar, Challenge & tournament info. - Calendar, Challenge building &
programming tips.
Practice, Practice, Practice
3 Weeks before the Qualifier - Pretend to be at the tournament – go through
what will be done: Robot Performance 2 ½ minutes. Robot Design 5-10 minutes; Research Project 10 minutes; Judges’ interview of the team for Teamwork Award.
V-Day – Qualifier & Finals
         Bring consent forms, a kit for repairs & enhancements, robot(s) (if you have
more than one kit, build & program two identical robots in case something happens to one & you don’t have time for major repairs), robot charger, Research Project materials, laptop & charger, power strip, extension cord.
                  Lunch, snacks, and/or money for food.
The Robot Game takes place on a specially designed table, so you’ll need to build one to practice on if you don’t already have access to one.  With safety, weight, height, and cost in mind, a simple design is offered here, but as long as your surface is smooth, and your border walls are located properly, how you build the understructure is up to you.  The construction is simple, but does require some wood-working skills.
At a tournament, two tables are placed back to back, but you only operate on one table, so you only need to build one table to practice on.  Since a tournament setup has a double wall at the interactive area where the two tables meet, practice tables need an extra wall of type B on the corresponding side.  So here are the instructions for building one “half-table” including a double north wall:
Field Setup Kit (mission model LEGO elements, mat, CD, Dual Lock)
sanded plywood (or other very smooth board) 96” X 48” X 3/8” or thicker
two-by-four, 8’ (actual cross-section = 1-1/2” by 3-1/2”)
two-by-three, 8’ (actual cross-section = 1-1/2” by 2-1/2”)
flat black paint
1 pt. or spray can
coarse drywall screws, 6 X 2-1/2”
1/2 lb.
saw horses, about 24” high and 36” wide
Make From
table surface (A)
96” X 48”
long border wall (B)
short border wall (C)
stiffener (D)
saw horse
H » 24”  W » 36”
Step 1 - Determine which face of the plywood (A) is least smooth, and consider that the bottom face.  On the bottom face, locate, clamp, and screw on the stiffeners (D) (about every 18 inches).  Be sure screw head tops are flush.  Sand any splinters. 
Step 2 - On the top face of the plywood, locate, clamp, and screw on the border walls (B,C) around the top perimeter.  The wall-to-wall dimensions must measure 93±1/8” by 45±1/8” (2362±3mm by 1143±3mm).
Step 3 - With the help of another person, place this table top on short saw horses (or milk crates, or anything else short and solid).
Parts Rules
This rule is not only about the robot.  It also covers all of the attachments and strategic objects you bring to the competition area…
  • Everything you compete with must be made of LEGO elements in original factory condition, except LEGO string and tubing, which you may cut to length.  Exception: You can reference a paper list to keep track of programs.
  • There are no restrictions on the quantities or sources of non-electric LEGO elements, except that factory-made wind-up/pull-back “motors” are not allowed.  Pneumatics are allowed.
  • The electric elements used must be the LEGO MINDSTORMS type, and the total number of electric elements you may use in one match is limited as follows:
For RCX users:      
 For NXT users:
RCX controller (1) 
NXT controller (1)
motors (3)  
motors (3)
touch sensors (2) 
touch sensors (2)
light sensors (2)     
light sensors (2)
lamp (1)      
lamp (1)      
rotation sensors (3)    
rotation sensors (3 minus the number of NXT motors present)
3rd touch OR light sensor (1)    
ultrasonic sensor (1)
  • Example 1:  If your robot has three motors, you may not have any other motor in the competition area, even if it’s only for weight or decoration; even if it’s in a box, off the field.
  • Example 2:  If your robot has two motors, but you have multiple attachments to motorize, you must design a way to switch the 3rd motor from one attachment to the next.
  • LEGO wires and converter cables are allowed as needed.
  • Spare/alternate electrical parts are allowed in the pit area.
  • Computers are not allowed in the competition area.
  • Objects functioning as remote controls are not allowed anywhere.
  • Marker may be used for owner identification in hidden areas only.
  • Paint, tape, glue, oil, etc. are not allowed.
  • Stickers are not allowed except LEGO stickers applied per LEGO instructions.
  • You are not allowed to use more than one robot in a single match, but it’s okay to use a different robot in a different match.
  • If a robot is in violation - of this rule or the SOFTWARE rule - and cannot be corrected, the decision about exactly what to do rests with the head officials at the tournament, but that robot may not win awards.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

FLL Teams Invited to World Maker Faire at the NY Hall of Science

Dear FIRST Lego League Teams,

We're writing to let you know that NYC/NJ FIRST has an exhibit space at the World Maker Faire taking place on September 25th and 26th at the New York Hall of Science in Queens, NY and guess what?  We would like to invite to you and your FLL team to participate on Sunday September 26th if you're available. (We know that the game launch is September 25th.)

Please fill out this form if you're interested:
or email

Please feel free to forward this email to any teams you think might be interested and contact us if you have any questions or concerns.

Warm regards,

Norm Sutaria

Jeanne Boyarsky

Norm Sutaria
Lead Team Queueing Volunteer, FRC
NYC Regional 2009, 2010

Jeanne Boyarsky
Java Programming Mentor
Team 694 - Stuy Pulse