Well, I finally had a chance to see the club members compete as individual teams with their coaches yesterday. There were six teams in all - five of which attend the club plus one visiting neighborhood team. Despite a few glitches ( one team did not have their robot ready , another had a long delay due to dropping the robot), we were able to get all six teams to present their projects to a visiting group of teachers, as well as have most of the teams run several rounds at the table. We didn't keep score but rather concentrated on getting the teams acclimated to the fast paced 2.5 minutes rounds.
Our visiting team arrived with a RCX Robot. It's quite remarkable how quite those older motors run - definitely a smooth ride.
Most teams were able to master the buckyball mission, activating their side of the space elevator, the nanotube strength, and of course the pizza molecules. A few teams delivered the dirt tray but none had bothered to dump the dirt. Overall, a great effort, considering that they are all rookie division 1 teams. There was also a nice variety of robot designs. All 2 wheel with 1 castor... but very unique chassis and attachments on most.
I was a little disappointed to not see the light sensor in use by any other team but my own, despite the constant drilling at our earlier club meetings. Instead they relied heavily on dead reckoning which seemed easy enough to code but lacked consistency due to minor alignment variations from home base - something not as evident with line detection and following.
A word on teaching "line following": There is a line following routine in the Robot Educator that the students can copy verbatim. All you have to do is tell the students to start near any black line and observe the difference in behavior when the robot starts on the left side or the right side of the line. Then you simply challenge them to explain the "line following" code in the Robot Educator example. This is also a great way to teach "switch blocks" and loop controls.