First Lego League Robotics Competition

On Saturday 6th January, 15 girls gathered in the parking lot of Kendrick school to set out, on the school minibus, to the FLL(First Lego League) Robotics Competition. The group consisted of a team of 10 people, and 5 reserves. The girls in our team were Ishika Jain, Shruthi Lakshmanan,Kateryna Heslington, Jessica Needs, Isabella McDonald, Sophie Connell and Juliette Kemp from 8A; Anvesha Saxena, Gauri Narendran  and Arya Kalavath from 8N. The reserves were Anya Mahajan (8L), Amber Dsouza, Adhya Shastri and Sanya Sinha (8A) and Bidisha Ghosh (8N), who helped with organization, tactics, and team spirit. Mr Hayes, Madame Hulley, and Ms Kattirtzi also came to oversee and encourage the team.

This year’s theme was Hydro-Dynamics, which entailed finding solutions to problems involving water. There were 4 different aspects of the competition: Robot Design, Robot Performance, Core Values, and the Hydrodynamics presentation. The Robot Design is about how well a team has built a robot, using Lego Mindstorm technology and how the tools on the robot can be adapted for the different tasks, with the best designs earning points.

The Robot Performance involved programming the intelligent brick that controlled the robot and making it do the tasks(or missions) on a mat designed specially for the FLL which was called the Robot Game. On the mat were various water related tasks, also made from Lego. The robot needed to complete these tasks by pushing, pulling, spinning, and moving things. Completing these missions earns points, and the aim is to get as many points as possible.

Core Values gets a team points when they demonstrate ways of working together and respecting each other. Helping and being nice to other teams also earns points.

The presentation involves having to find a water related problem, and think up an innovative and cheap solution to address that problem. It has to be 5 minutes long, with thorough explanations. Our mission this year was to ensure a steady supply of potable water by preserving the dam that holds it.

The team split into groups to help with these aspects. The Robot Design was done by Kateryna Heslington,  Jessica Needs, Sophie Connell and Isabella McDonald. The Robot Performance was done by Ishika Jain, Adhya Shastri, Jessica Needs, Shruthi Lakshmanan and Sanya Sinha. The models for the presentation were done by Juliette Kemp. The Core Values were done by the entire team, and the Presentation was done by Arya Kalavath and Gauri Narendran.

The entire team was picked from Kendrick Robotics Club, open to year 8 and up.

Once we got there, we were shown our space where we could discuss the competition and work on the robot programming. We were in a larger space since we were a large team. Once we had settled in, we went to the introduction where all teams were announced. Our team name was ‘The Kendricans’, as chosen by last year’s team. We went in for our first practice session with the robot. It went as expected. Our first event was Robot Design, so we took our robot in for inspection. We explained why we had built the robot the way it was, taking time to describe how each extension helped the robot to complete the missions on the board. We explained why we had refrained from using sensors, as they had actually hindered our robots progress instead of helping it.

After Robot Design, we had some time to work on our robot’s programming, while

Arya, Gauri, Anya, Juliette and Anvesha worked on the model for the presentation and practised our lines once again. After this, we had our second practise with our robot on the Practice Board.

After this was our presentation which was a great success. We used our model, which was now complete and the judge was extremely interested in what we had to say, which is always a good sign!

After our presentation, we had Robot Performance Session 1, where we earned 35 points on the board. There were 3 such sessions, with a break to work on our robot in between. We had some more time to work on our robot, followed by another turn at the Practice Board which was very successful.

After this was our Core Values test. We talked about how we had worked together and how we had each displayed the core values outside of school.

The Core Values were:

  • We are a team.
  • We do the work to find solutions with guidance from our coaches and mentors.
  • We know our coaches and mentors don’t have all the answers; we learn together.
  • We honor the spirit of friendly competition.
  • What we discover is more important than what we win.
  • We share our experiences with others.
  • We display Gracious Professionalism® and Co-operative Competition® in everything we do.
  • We have FUN!

We decided to practise our missions with the robot one last time before the last round began, to make sure they worked. The missions we attempted were: To make the fountain’s middle layer rise some obvious height and stay there due only to a Big Water in the grey tub; To make at least one rain come out of the rain cloud; To move the inspection camera tripod so it is completely in either tripod target, with all of its feet touching the mat and to move the filter North until the lock latch dropped.

The final board session went very well and we were all very pleased and glad that we had learnt so much.

The day was full of fun and joy and we gained a lot of experience as a team and individually. We look forward to the FLL competition next year and  we plan to have just as much fun, with cooperation and continued used of the Core Values.

By Arya  Kalavath and Gauri Narendran 8N