Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Getting back to where we started...

As the date for our competition draws near we need to be mindful of the FLL Values we recited the day we formed our team.

  1. We are a team.
  2. We do the work to find solutions with guidance from our coaches and mentors.
  3. We honor the spirit of friendly competition.
  4. What we discover is more important than what we win.
  5. We share our experiences with other.
  6. We display gracious professionalism* in everything we do.
  7. We have fun.
* Gracious professionalism...
  • Gracious attitudes and behaviours are "win-win".
  • Gracious people respect others and let that respect show through their actions.
  • Gracious professionals make a valued contribution in a manner pleasing to others and to themselves. They possess special knowlege and are trusted by society to use that knowlege responsibly.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


got robot? had a tremendous practice Monday evening. After struggling for several weeks with a buggy robot and programs Monday's practice produced huge results.

Following a long weekend of chassis and program refinements by two team members got robot? was able to spend their entire practice concentrating on perfecting the robot game. Out of 16 table runs the robot scored an average of 267 points and scored 315 on their best run.

The robot is running so well during the 2:30 minutes that there's time to spare. The team is now working to add another mission or two.

Well done team!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Results from World Festival in Atlanta

Post Event News Release from
ATLANTA –April 18, 2009 – Twenty-thousand spectators, students, mentors, volunteers, sponsors, and FIRST supporters gathered over the weekend to experience the ultimate celebration of science and technology that ignites students’ scientific savvy in three levels of Championship competitions. Teams from California, Illinois, and Michigan emerged victorious at the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Championship at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. It was the climax to months of regional competitions involving 1,680 teams from the United States and ten other nations: Brazil, Canada, Chile, Germany, Israel, Mexico, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.

Eighty four teams from 27 countries participated in the FIRST LEGO League World Festival. This year’s “Climate Connections” real-life challenge tasked students, ages 9 to 14, to design, build, and program robots and embark on an exploration of the earth’s climate. Top honors went to Champion’s Award 1st Place winner, Team 55 “Da Peeps” from Swartz Creek, Michigan; Champion’s Award 2nd Place winner, Team 1232 “STEELE” from Kildeer, Illinois; and Champion’s Award 3rd Place winner, Team 9201 “NXT Generation” from Nordborg, Denmark. The Champion’s Award measures how teams inspire and motivate others about the excitement and wonders of science and technology, while demonstrating gracious professionalism.

Joe Meno has posted links to his Brick Journal photos at Jim Kelly's The NXT STEP blog:

2nd Place Champions Award Winner!
Illinois Team 1232 Team STEELE at World Festival

Illinois Team 1217 Supernova at World Festival
Nominated for a Programming Award and for their Gracious Professionalism.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Congratulations Team Steele!!

We just got an email informing us that Illinois FLL Team Steele just received the 2nd Place Champions Award at World Fest in Atlanta, GA

Way to go!!!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Terrific support!

Ya know? I got to thinking about all that has happened this year and the parents and people behind the scenes that have supported us.  Now that I have a soap box I'll make it public.

Thank you Sue R. for the countless team press releases, advice, encouragement, and fundraising. You rock!!

Thank you Dave R. for the the awesome t-shirts, encouragement, and team goodies. 

Thank you Dan and Leesa U. for the words of encouragement and your calm, understanding nod when I vent about how crazy the kids get.

Thank you Marc S. for mentoring our team and giving us a judges perspective on the technical presentation.

Thank you Cynthia S. for sitting down with a my wife and I a year and a half ago and telling us all about FLL and the satisfaction that comes from coaching a team.

Thank you Carol M. for putting up with my new obsession, for coaching the research project, and taking care of the details I tend to forget. Luv you!

Thank you: Matt, Kristen, Bradley, Marc, and Jake for the fun, pride and memories.


Coach -- got robot?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

We're going to the U.S. Open!!

A lot has happened since we first met in September.

Our team of 5 FLL rookies has had one crazy year. After much pizza, sweat and tears our team made it through the Lake Zurich regional tournament in December and won the Judges Choice Award which qualified us for the Illinois State tournament in January.

Christmas and New Years fell in between our regional and state tournament and didn't leave us much time to prepare for state. But somehow we managed to add a few more potential points to our table run and tighten up our research project.

The Illinois state tournament was a blast! We ran from event to event over the two days the tournament took place. In between robot runs and judging events we got a chance to meet Steve Hassenplug, a Mindstorms guru that my kids and I admire.

Finally, at the end of two exhausting days we gathered in the bleachers with the other teams for the awards ceremony. There were a couple dozen bright yellow brick trophies centered on a table before us and we silently hoped our hard work would earn us one them. As the ceremony progressed and fewer and fewer awards were left to give out. Our hearts sank as we realized the remaining trophies were only for the top three teams. Then, certain we were finished, came the announcement that got robot? had won the 3rd Place Champions Award!

The 1st and 2nd place champion teams automatically qualified to move on to either the U.S. Open Championship in Dayton, OH or World Fest in Atlanta, GA. In the off chance either of those teams couldn't attend our team could take their place.

Both teams decided to go so we had our celebration party and disbanded the team until fall. But a couple weeks ago, in a strange twist of fate, one of the teams signed up for the U.S. Open could not attend so the open slot was extended to our team. We're going to the U.S. Open!!!!

With less than a month to regather the team and take the robot out of mothballs we've been busy trying to put the shine back into our project presentation and robot game. We only have a couple weeks remaining until the competition but we're rapidly getting back up to speed and we should be ready by May 7th to show Dayton what got robot? can do.

Stay tuned!