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2007-08 Site

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2007-08 Teams:
FTC Team 7 * FLL Team 10
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Forest Hill, Maryland, USA
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FLL BLOG 2007-2008

* We Visit SURVICE Engineering in Belcamp, Maryland, to Share Our Work
DSC_0877Blog.JPGThanks to the gracious hospitality of SURVICE Engineering, in Belcamp, MD, our JFLL, FLL, and FTC teams were able to present their work to a group of engineers and analysts (and their children!) SURVICE is a long-standing and successful technology company close associated with  the Aberdeen/Edgewood Proving Grounds. They specialize in survivability testing. Visit the website at for more information.

The amazing part was that it was the first time we had all three teams in one place and what a group it was! A sea of white hats and red, blue, and black shirts. Each team presented their work and deftly handled questions. From the youngest to the oldest we couldn't have been prouder of these kids and how well they did.

Click here for our pictures:

* Team Continues Their Work and Starts with a Few Group Games

We opened with some group games from Destination Imagination. A family member's daughter is coaching an urban school's DI team.

The FLL team continued working on the 'bot. The refined a number of their attachments and began the final stages of programming.

The presentation team reviewed their solar analysis from the previous week. Given the calculations they decided that solar was most likely not a good solution for this house. However, others wanted to investigate further.

See our photos...

* Continuing Hard work on Presenation and 'bot
DSC_0449Blog.JPGThe presentation team continued their research and worked on the first phase of solar viability. The question is: Is the house in the right position for solar power?

They setup the house in north orientation on a sheet and then, using a chart of azimuth and angle, measured the resultant angle on the roof. The optimal angle is 70-110 degrees. Next week they'll figure out the cost versus benefits.

The build/programming group continued to look for creative methods to solve the table challenge. They were motivated by ICNRG from the Netherlands( Their team scored multiple 400's and plans to do so for their champion level events.  We worked on precise programming and some new multiple function attachments.

See our photos here:

* Post-Scrimmage De-Brief and Back to Work
DSC_0295Blog.jpgEmily was sick so we cranked up the web-cam and speaker phone. As you can see, she was a part of the discussion (though disguised as a phone).

The team de-briefed from the Lansdale scrimmage. Key points were: Simplify attachments, get better eye contact with judges, eliminate the need for any adjustments during practice.

The presentation team watched their video and prepared to add more research to the project. We learned about azimuth and angles of the sun. We plan to evaluate our house in its relation to the sun throughout the year to see if solar energy is a viable solution.

The build/programing team evaluated their work and focused on combining missions into single actions.

Click here for our photos...


* Lansdale Catholic Scrimmage in Blue Bell, PA

On Saturday, Nov 17, the FLL team participated in on the oldest and best run FLL scrimmages held by Lansdale Catholic High School  and  Montgomery County Community College ( in Blue Bell, PA. The team was awarded the coveted Lansdale Catholic sword of Gracious Professionalism.

See our pictures (lots of 'em!)

* Final Preparations for the Landsdale Catholic Scrimmage
DSC_0059Blog.JPGTeam buckled down to get ready for the Landsdale Catholic scrimmage in Blue Bell, PA on Saturday, November 17. This is one of the best scrimmages because it gives the team (esp the new member) a real feel for the tournament experience.

The project team put the finishing touches on their presentation model (including minor details like AC labels and grids). They then put together their final presenation outline.

The building/programming team refined the missions they are ready for. They can run four combo missions with consistency and got a respectable score of 250 on their first few runs.

See our photos

* The House Gets a Roof, the Sensors Work, and We Measure Insulating Heat
DSC_0312Blog.JPGThe FLL team continued their work.

The programming and building teams began to refine their sensor settings and attachments. The board is tricky this year because of very similar contrast colors.

The research team got the roof on their house, flooring in, and prepared to create the example components that will show the energy efficiency of the modifications.

Our strategy team worked on research as well, learning about the R factor of insulating materials. They use an infra-red thermometer and a blow dryer to measure the conductivity of various materials in terms of heat transfer and heat retention. We even measured Zach's forehead temperature after he swallowed a teaspoon of hot sauce.

See our pictures:

* Two Robots, Intense Programming, The House is Rising
DSC_0058BLOG.JPGThe programmers worked so hard Marco had to check for brain mush. But Andy and KC survived a tough session!

The building team got their second matching bot built and running so we can double our programming efforts. Along with the strategy team the worked on testing out proposed attachments.

The research team brought some other team members into their project as we expand the research to the whole team. They finished the basement and first two stories of their architectural model that they will use to describe the modfications to the building and future achievable savings.

See our photos:

* Research team begins to put floors on their model. Strategy, Building, and Programming start on their first missions.
DSC00955Blog.jpgOur team cat, Darcy, helped us with our work this week. He loves the Lego parts!

This week our strategy team, Emily and Jonathan, worked hard to convert the '400 point' plan into action blocks that the programmers can use to start coding.

Cole and Jonathan built a radical new 'bot base that accomplished a major task: It drives straight! They managed to create a stable, strong base that will easily accept a range of attachments.

KC and Andy, our programming team began translating the strategy into code and ended the day with the first consistent mission that was simple, repeatable, reliable, and precise (our four methodological standards).

Nate and Alie were joined by Captain Zach and Kaitlin to begin putting details on their architectural model that will be basis for their research report.

* FLL begins putting together strategy, building, and programming.
DSC00887Blog.JPGOur research team continued working on their architectural model of the 1830's boarding house. Next they will add they improvements and changes to the building before proposing new changes. In the next phase, the other team members will start on the research as well.

Our Building, Strategy, and Programming teams began 'assembling' the solutions. As usual, initial solutions never work as expected so they began the process of testing and evaulation.

We also had a visitor, Jeannine Finton, who will be our host at a technology open house at our local library on Dec 5, 2007.

See our photos:

* We begin to bring our sub-teams together
DSC_2519Blog.jpgAfter three weeks of work in their sub-groups we brought the strategy group's results to the building and programming groups.

They demonstrated a couple of '400 point' scenarios. We timed their scenarios (done by hand) to see how smoothly their solution flowed.

Next week a we begin putting 'wheels' on a couple of the challenges with the strategy team working as advisors to the programming and building teams.

The research team began building and architectural model of their building. It is a 1830's boarding house that has been converted into an office. The recently done modifications have served as a good model for comparison.

See our photos:

* FLL Continues their work and planning and webcasts for Nate.

Nate was sick so we set up webcam and webcast the research session and used a speaker phone so he could participate.

This year's challenge will require very intense strategic planning. We are trying an 'industry' approach this year by dividing our team into four primary groups:

  • Strategy
  • Building
  • Programming
  • Research

The strategy team (using the cool techbrick planning boards) has explored more than 100 scoring scenarios.

The programming team is reviewing all the code and commands and practicing code sequences applicable to this year's challenge.

The building team is working on a robot base and attachements that will be able to manipulate the items on the board.

The research team has identified a local building, built in the 1930's, that has been partially refurbished. They will analyze the improvements and look for other deficiencies.

Look at our photos.

* Third Practice: We Plow Into the Challenge
DSC_0546B.jpgWith ten of us on the team we have to divide our tasks to get the work done. To do so, we started with four groups: Programming, Strategy, Building, and Research.

The programming group started reviewing in-depth tutorials on the programming environment. Their task is to totally re-master the software so they can execute on what the strategy and design teams bring to them.

The design team began building prototype devices to manipulate the items on the board. We need the best way to lift, move, push, etc.

The strategy team made good use of the new table mat dry marker boards (pictured here). Their goals is to come up with a number of ways to generate a perfect score.

The research team identified a great old office building in our town that should serve as a good training ground for the research project. They also reviewed all the documents and got to explode a 10 year fire cracker to illustrate potential energy.

See our photos here:

* Understanding the Table
DSC_9950Blog.jpgToday we started with a team building challenge.  We had 10 minutes to build a tower or castle only using paper or tape, without talking.  We then talked about what a team is and how we can become a better team. 

We spent the rest of the day discussing the table and missions and how the missions interconnected. 

We ended the day by discussing having team leaders for building, programming, the project and strategy.  Next week we will choose team leaders. 

We also mixed up our own hot sauce brew out of lots of different hot sauces and spices from the kitchen.

Check out our photos:

* First Meeting Pre-Challenge: We sort bricks.
DSC_9466.JPGWe met for our first fall session. The major emphasis: Sorting Legos from last year.

Our coach assured us this was important (which I guess it so we can find our parts).

We also received our assignments for the week: To read and understand the challenge. We got some cool worksheets that will help us with this. You can download them from our site.

Next week we buckle down and get to the real work of the challenge.

See all our pictures at

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