Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Robotics Updates

The team is going to participate in the FLL (FIRST LEGO League) Challenge this year. Here are some updates so you are in the know and can talk about it with your children.

The Date
The tournament will be held on Saturday 3rd September 2016 at ACG Strathallan (South Auckland). Please check your other sports/activities as it would be extremely sad to lose key team members to a hockey game or something like that. Please let me know if you child cannot attend the event so we can plan around it.

About FLL
The NZ site
International site

This Year's FLL
Each year the event has a different topic. This year the topic is Trash Trek. It is about minimizing waste/recycling/cleaning up etc. There are two parts: The Project and the Robot Game.

The Project
The team needs to select some problem related to the challenge topic and propose a solution. The team should present the solution to the judges at the event.

Mrs Kirk has kindly agreed to oversee the children working on The Project. The idea is that such research work and then work to prepare and deliver a presentation fits well into the school and Montessori curriculum and thus can be done during class time.

The Robot Game
We have received a LEGO set for this year's robot game. Last 3 or 4 sessions the team was busy building the models for the game and learning about the missions. Most of the models are now complete.

There are 12 missions in the game. The team can attempt as many as they could. Each successful mission brings some points. The children picked the missions they wanted to work on.

The game runs on a specially designed table with a special mat. In each mission the robot needs to interact with one or more models on the field and achieve some outcome.

All models and missions are related to this year's challenge topic Trash Trek. Here are some of the missions you can hear about from your children:

  • Building demolition
  • Sorting
  • Composting
  • Transport
  • Repurposing
  • Salvaging valueables
  • Cleanup
The cool thing is that from now on, the children should do all the work. The coaches are only there to help, not to do the work.

The children are supposed to understand well the mission they chose to work. They need to know the model, where it is located on the field, how it works and what should the robot do with the model. 

Then, the children need to design and build a robot that will execute the mission. The robot is likely to be one of the "simple" moving robots on wheels or tracks. They have built several options before. But they need to come up with a design of some mechanical attachment that will execute the required action.

Then of course, they need to write a program to make the robot do what is required. 

At this stage they are likely to iterate. They will find out what works and what does not, go back and alter their plan for the mission or change the robot design, improve software and so on until they get it right.

I will write more when we have interesting stories unfolding.


Unpacking the challenge set.

Some robots already can go into action.

Building the models. These are containers for sorting different types of trash and recycling.

Building the Car. The mission is for the robot to recycle (put away) or refurbish the car.

Building the Sorter. Looks like the most complex model in the set, it will sort different types of bricks.

The game table and the mission instructions.

All missions are now taken.


  1. I hear a lot of talk about 'robotics' but they never really share what it's all about. It's great to read about the FLL event here, and see them unpacking / prepping all their equipment. Really impressive - thanks.

  2. Simon and Christine15 April 2016 at 21:19

    This is amazing Roman, thanks for all the time you put into this