FLL: How Do You Practice at Home?

Some FLL teams face a challenge: how do individual team members practice at home without a mat?

FLL teams can purchase extra mats by buying additional field kits. However, these kits aren't available to individual teams after the registration period closes.

What creative ways do your team members use to practice at home?


Robolab 2.9 said…
In the first few weeks (after our teamwork/gracious profesionalsim speech), we get the resources from the awesome TechBrick website and plan our missions using the little print out mats, drawing diagrams of what we think will work, and writing pseudo programs.(http://www.techbrick.com/Lego/LEGO2008/index.html)

After our robot's work is on its way, we start assigning research as "homework". Each member recieves an assignment they need to complete at home. Since we meet twice a week, one meeting is dedicated to robot, and one is for putting together what we researched.

A week or so left to competition, we being to practice daily (or, however much we can)... what time we have at home is rest time. :)

This is how we do it... what about you?

Rick Rhodes said…
Thanks, Richard.

The two teams here practice twice a week together and several times a week together just prior to matches.

Several team members find it advantageous to practice solo with the robot at home.

Has anyone found it advantageous to purchase extra mats at the beginning of the season? (The teams here didn't, but wished they had).

Anonymous said…
The FLL website says: "The Field Setup Kit contains the rollout mat and mission models that teams need for participation in the robot game portion of FLL. Each team is only allowed to purchase one Field Setup Kit."

So if a team wants two field kits, it must pay two registration fees ($200 each) and two field kit fees ($65 each).

I have always thought that if a team is allowed to purchase two robot kits, it should be allowed to purchase two field kits, but I guess it would be too hard to predict how many kits to manufacture, and unsold kits couldn't be reused the next year.

Linda Zoe
Robolab 2.9 said…
"Several team members find it advantageous to practice solo with the robot at home."

Are they just practicing running, or doing the actual developement? If it's the developement... how do you transport all the materials (the hundreds of pieces) and everything? We could never do this because we never found a way to move everything from house to house.

"...but I guess it would be too hard to predict how many kits to manufacture, and unsold kits couldn't be reused the next year."

I agree that they can't reuse them next year... but so many teams want a practice kit or something to use over the summer, or a solo kid that doesn't belong to team wants to play. (this was me for a while)

Rick Rhodes said…

The reason kids can practice individually at home is that each team member was provided an education kit that they could use solely at home. (These are in addition to the team kits they use for practice).

All of this is thanks to a corporation in town which sponsors the entire team. (I know that not every team has this advantage).

Kids have traced sections of the mat on paper and use those at home. They also take measurements of the mat and then run the "course" on their home floor. However, both of these methods are cumbersome.

I just wondered how other people ran the course at home, if they had the opportunity.

Linda: I hope Lego Ed can find a way to provide field mats on an "a la carte" basis, instead of making teams purchase extra registrations as well. But I do see the supply/demand problems that could result from a la carte purchases.
Anonymous said…
I've wondered about the possibility of using the previous year's mat by turning it over and using colored markers to draw the new challenge graphics on the back. There's always leftover duolock to attach mission models, and some of them could be built from the team's stockpile of assorted LEGOs. For instance, this year we could use the red and blue balls and rubber tire rings that come with the NXT robot, any minifigs, and the reservoir, levees, and gate use common parts. Any similar-sized bricks could be used to represent the bike, insulation, laptop, and snowmobile, and as long as you had the right height and distance, the ice core could be replicated. The only hard to mimic items would be the house, levee tester, drilling machine, ice sheet, ice buoy, and polar bear. But you could have enough items to work with to make the effort worthwhile.

Linda Zoe
David Levy said…
"What creative ways do your team members use to practice at home?"

The Robot Game is only 25% of the score. So if anyone on your team has the incentive to put in extra time at home then it is usually beneficial to have them work on

1) The research project
a) their end of the research
b) practicing their end of the presentation ( i.e. a script)

2) teamwork: studying the FLL sites and learning about gracious professionalism - or just reading about how to conduct oneself as a good team player.

3) Robot Design:
a) LEGO Digital Designer attachment or robot chassis mock ups
b) programming flow documentation
c) Programming various sensors without FLL mat surfaces
d) button sensor techniques to to combine programs
e) myblock code refactoring
f) fine tune datalogging and other debugging techniques
g) robot arm attachments prototypes ( You don't need an FLL model to do this. You just need to prove that you can move an arm in a desired direction.)

4) online collaboration
a) meeting minutes
b) email latest source code to entire team

In short, there are many areas not related to the table that individuals can focus on. So if you have team members that are willing to work at home then there are plenty of activities that you can delegate to those members outside of the regular practices.

David Levy
3rd year Div 1 Coach.
Reston VA USA
Fay Rhodes said…

This is very helpful advice. I'm sharing it will all of my co-leaders.

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