First Lego League

The first time I gave a thought to be a part of this event.

FLL is about encouraging kids in robot desing & programming in an interactive manner which would hook them to this. I managed to partner with another colleague of mine and we decided to coach a team. He as the main coach and me the assistant. We had to form a team of more than 3 and with some difficulties we managed to get 7kids. It was a tough challenge in terms of co-ordination since all stayed at different locations here in Bangalore. We did overcome the obstacle. There were some confusions also as to how the event would be conducted and who would organize this event. Finally, Techtronics took this up. The venue for the South Zone India contest was SAP Labs India office premises in Bangalore.
We managed to make a design which was definitely not the best but would perform the tasks. The theme of this year (2009) was “Smart Move“. Our robot was failing to do certain tasks like picking up the loops or the angle at which it was turning and moving. Sometimes the ultrasonic sensor used to give wrong readings. The touch sensor even with impact was moving forward and not stopping. There were many challenges like these.
The D-Day arrived and on arriving at the campus in the main cafeteria area, two mats were prepared and kept for the mission. Two teams would compete at a given time. 2mins30secs per team to complete the mission and win total of 400points. And best of 3 rounds. Our robot failed in round 1. The rules were strict and the kids got tensed when the robot did not perform the task. Round 2 & Round 3 we managed to get some points on the board.
We as coaches could sit in the room without giving any signals to the team.
The other activities included a technical presentation. Where the team has to talk about the design of the robot, do a run to explain the movement and also explain the programming.
The next was project presentation. Each team has to prepare a project, an idea on smart move. Identify a problem, interact with community and propose a solution. We identified our project as “smart movement of power”. The loss of power in transmission from the main station to the end consumers.
The last activity was a test of team work. Each team would be given a task to perform and they would judge the teamwork in this activity.
Firstly, our robot failed to do all the given tasks. Ultrasonic sensor failed and our angles measured and changed at the beginning of the day still made the robot go haywire.
In the technical presentation, the kids were caught when they were unable to explain about the switch based on rotation sensor. Rotation sensor would calculate the number of rotations the wheel of a particular motor makes. We could then write a logic based on this number.
In the project presentation everything went well till the time judges suddenly woke up the remaining kids and asked them to speak. We had divided the tasks among kids initially based on their strong points. Also, we had scaled down the broad area to specific issues at the end consumer level. It is not easy for school kids to come up with a solution to fix the problem of transmission over the thick insulated wires. Where in India there is 30% loss of power during between generation and consumption. Somehow the judges were not able to visualise this or what. We should have also had proposed how a smart move would result in lesser loss. Both sides are at fault but the way judges questioned the kids could have definitely been better. While everyone talks about transportation we wanted to do a certain deviation here. They were questioning like how a lawyer would in a court of law.
In the teamwork the kids did well. The task was to hold hands of opposite person. Two hands of one cannot hold two of same another person. They have to entangle and make a circle without breaking the hand lock. In the practise the kids made it, but in the final run they couldnt. They did talk well and tried to convince the judge but it was not convincing.
In the end we as a team could have done lots better. The kids should have practised harder, we should have regularly had sessions to assemble & program the robot rather than hold on till the end. But being first time we were also not clear and little relaxed.
Personally, I loved assembling, designing the robot. I was not very keen in programming. It does take lot of time. I would be willing to do the coach role again in years to come depending on other activities.

For photos click here.


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