Aug 14, 2006

New FLL Challenge

I had a chance this weekend to visit with some Atlanta, GA area teachers who are coaches or otherwise affiliated with the FLL. Kristie Brown, the LEGO Education representative gave a demonstration of the software and had 6 of the NXT bots assembled and available for "testing."

We got to look at the new playing field and the various tasks/challenges associated with the "Nanotechnology" theme... it looks SO FUN! If you have a chance to see a local, state, or national FLL competition, I highly recommend it... I can't wait to see what the kids come up with to solves these challenges.

On another note, I got to work with the NXT-G Education version of the software... the training tutorials are a little more interesting - there's a video demonstrating the motion of each bot which I thought was very cool... and the tutorials are very well done...

I got to see the case that the Ed version comes in... definitely wish we had that option with the retail kit, but that's okay... I like my cases anyway.

20 comments:

robotech said...

Even with the nice compartmentalized tray that comes with the educational kit, you probably still need multi-compartment ditty boxs for all the pins, studs, small gears, small axels, axel lugs, worm gears, &etc. I use two "bead" boxes each with about twelve compartments. These boxes are probably small enough to fit inside the educational box.

jonathan said...

My team recieved all the FLL stuff a little while ago. It looks really interesting! We got the full deal - the necessary items plus the education NXT, building resource kit, and software. I haven't opened the NXT or Resouce kit yet - that waits until the whole team gets together again. But I have started building the challenges, and they're looking really awesome!

-Jonathan

Jim Kelly said...

My science classes were never this fun... school has REALLY changed.

Jim

dlevy said...

I had my first club meeting with the LME base sets last week. I had three kids on a set.

Steps

1) Unpack and put items in trays
( Note the kit comes with a tray card that tells you exactly where to put all the pieces. This wasn't obvious to me at first)

2) used a label maker to label the case, the two trays, the CPU, and the transformer.

3) build the tribot from the book (stop before putting sensors on)
One child reads and builds, another spots, and another finds the pieces.
All rotate.

4) drag a few motor icons and try some basic navigation ( helps to have a few baterries pre-charged.

After two hours we had six kits unpacked, assorted, and labeled. Four of the six tribots were completed and tested.

dlevy

Jim Kelly said...

I hope they had fun... I'm sure kids are looking forward to using and building with these new kits.

Jim

dlevy said...

It was a big success. I've now got a waiting list as I'm at full capacity. about 40 kids.

I think the building sessions will be the most nerve racking because of all the loose trays. Kids tend to play with th peices. One girl brought in here bionicles - yikes!

Jim Kelly said...

Please take lots of photos and be sure to share with all of us what's going on... will you be posting pics on your website?

Jim

dlevy said...

The website is still brittle at the moment. Right now I'm torn between the site and the NXT tutorials. My son and I have finished the 2nd challenge in the retail kit ( the crane that moves the red ball between pedestals - it was actually on display at the club). I have not had a chance to start on the LME RoboEdu tutorials and I figured I better get cracking.

Where did you start with the LME tutorials. The user guide cd or just the RoboEdu tool?

I'll let you know more about the site as it develops. Though I'll probably have more breathing room after the FLL season.

Tony Naggs said...

Regarding the box that the LME kit comes in, this is intended for classroom storage. The kit tidies neatly away,. and there is a small gap between the trays.

The box does not work so well for transport. Tipped the on its side in a suitcase the lid comes off of the box...

Probably a luggage strap will fix this if placed lengthways. Though I shall probably also put a plastic bag around the box before I strap it up.

Ttfn,
Tony

jonathan said...

Jim,

lol, I love science! But only because the curriculum I'm using is awesome (Exploring Creation with Biology by Jay Wile).

I'm actually not doing FLL as a school thing. Since I'm homeschooled, I can make my schedule to fit FLL in during my free time, and I got several of my friends to do it with me and my brother.

-Jonathan

Jim Kelly said...

Hi, Jonathan...

Well, when I was in school the excitement in science class was playing with magnets or seeing a demonstration of static electricity... blah.

Things are improving for kids everywhere and I hope (think) that LEGO will continue to come out with things to push everybody's interest...

Jim

jonathan said...

Jim,

Yeah, my science has a lot of experiments that give me hands-on experience like you described. For example, one experiment I did last school year was changing the color of a cabbage-water solution by adding vinager or ammonia (changing the pH level). It was really fun!

While I wouldn't agree that most things are improving for children (such as education, discipline, etc.), I think Lego is definitley doing a great job with their educational "toys".

-Jonathan

Anonymous said...

For those who have seen the tutorials from both retail and Education kits, can you comment on how they differ? Specifically, I'm wondering what I'm missing out on since I only have access to the Education software.

Thanks!

Jim Kelly said...

I've seen both, but have only actually used the retail version... RoboCenter.

The tutorials are both displayed the same way... arrows are used to move forward and backwards for the building instructions and the programming instructions. Both types of tutorials can be expanded (zoom button) to fill the entire screen for a larger image.

The RoboCenter comes with 4 different robot variations... AlphaRex, Spike, T-56, and TriBot. The Robo Educator comes with just one base unit and everything seems to build off of it.

Now, having said all that, I believe from what I've seen that the Education version breaks down the assembly of the different variations into more sub-tutorials... in one, for instance, there were 20 sub-tutorials... the retail version I don't remember having that many... maybe 6 or 7 for the TriBot is the most I remember.

All along LEGO has insisted that the two kits are supposed to serve two different functions. The Ed version has curriculum being developed that uses the basic bot that the kids learn how to build with the Ed kit. The retail kit, since it doesn't have educational materials being developed, can go a little further in various directions. I'm not a teacher, but I can see where it would be beneficial to have students all working from one basic design that can be built once and left alone... after a while, teachers will probably be able to build that bot in their sleep :P

I was told that the retail version is for non-students and the ed version is for teachers and students to purchase... I'll be purchasing a rechargeable battery system separately, which is really one of the only benefits I see to purchasing the educational version (for me)...

Jim

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Jim. As a homeschooler coaching an FLL team, my kit automatically shipped with the Education software. I won't, however, be using it with any of the other curriculum, because those packages are really cost-prohibitive for non-institutional users.

It now seems to me that we might have been better off to purchase the retail kit in order to gain access to the additional building models in the retail software.

I have been hoping to see more basic models (with instructions) posted by MDPs, to help us learn the new building techniques, but so far a lot of what I've seen is directed to more advanced users and not much help to my beginner-level team.

I can foresee a lot of FLL teams competing this year with the same basic robot based on the instructions in the edu software package...

Jim Kelly said...

Let me see what I can do... building instructions take time to create and a some skill (if software is used). I'll put the word out to some places and see what we can find.

Jim

dlevy said...

posting at 11:46am by Anonymous
said:
"my kit automatically shipped with the Education software.... It now seems to me that we might have been better off to purchase the retail kit"

Your FFL kit should have been shipped with much more:

5 BOXES

1) The 431 piece Lego Education Base Set. This is the
GREY case with the ORANGE top-tray


2) A 672 piece Lego Education RESOURCE set. It's meant
to compliment the Base set. It's packaging is very
similar to the base set except that it comes in a BLUE
case with a GREY top-tray.


3) The Challenge Mat to be placed on the table top.

4) A 1514 piece ( yikes!) Nano-tech Field set up kit.
The Box is marked "Challenge 2006"

5) The software , team license , transformer, and 3m
fastening material - to be used to secure the field
setup kit to the Challenge Mat.


Yes the team retail kit has more interesting challenges but I'm not sure how they can be applied to the competition. I.E. The retail tribot challenge grows to a fairly large size after attaching the claw. It may be too big for the competition table.

I agree that it would be nice for more simple models to be posted.
Nxtasy.org may have some nice ones in their repository

-david

Brian Davis said...

As to small FLL or other train base robots, That's one of the reasons I made JennToo (it's posted on the MINDSTORMS website under my profile). As Jim said, it takes time to CAD up a model, and most of us are more interested in building or learning new things. But I think LEGO Education may be drawing up some plans based on JennToo to provide just this sort of starting learning platform.

Beyond that, I imagine a lot of NXT-based FLL robots will look similar this year, because teams will not have as much time to experiment... but, that's one of the things FLL is about. We're all low on the learning curve this year with the NXT.

--
Brian Davis

dlevy said...

Brian,
Great video! Thanks for taking the time to build something simple yet anthropomorhic.

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