September is here and it’s time for FLL, except …. who changed my Core Values?

 

With the busy summer vacations behind us, it’s an odd week of relative quiet brought about by a shortened Labor Day week and the start of school. That means only one thing for those in the know. It’s time to start ramping up for Into Orbit FIRST Lego League! For those returning FLL teams, there are lots of changes this season. So many in fact, that many things might seem quite oddly out of place. The 8 pillars of FLL as we have all so earnestly memorized and practiced are now, motto non grata (or depending upon the severity of your Jersey accent, “motto non grotto”)

• 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 Coopertition® in everything we do.
• We have FUN!

How many times have you encountered situations in your lives and thought about which FLL Core Values applied? It has been the standard mantra for coaches and teams for over a decade now (or longer?). All gone! Well, it’s time for change!

Well not really all gone. It’s been reset, renewed, rebooted, refreshed, recast, repackaged, and re-purposed for a new generation of fearless STEM-ing young adults ready to make a difference in the world.

It really does make sense actually. In the intervening 10+ years that the “old” set of Core Values was done by FLL there’s been a massive transformation in the way we work, live, play, and communicate. We went from MySpace to Facebook to Instagram. YouTube didn’t exist in 2004. Now YouTube is watched more than TV. Among youth in 2004, the ratio of messaging app usage to email usage was 1:1. In 2018 that ratio is 10:1. Add in the physical changes in the world that seem to have accelerated in the last dozen years, melting ice caps, shrinking glaciers, record temperatures, and it is easy to see why change was needed.

It’s notable that the anchors of Gracious Professionalism and Coopertition have remained. In a sense, it is simply “do the right thing”. That’s how it was in 2005 and that how it remains now, “do the right thing”. From the FIRST website:

We express the FIRST philosophies of Gracious Professionalism and Coopertition through our Core Values:

  • Discovery: We explore new skills and ideas.
  • Innovation: We use creativity and persistence to solve problems.
  • Impact:  We apply what we learn to improve our world.
  • Inclusion: We respect each other and embrace our differences.
  • Teamwork: We are stronger when we work together.
  • Fun: We enjoy and celebrate what we do!

It’s different from what we knew so well before, but on closer examination, it is so very appropriate for 2018 and beyond. It’s more inspirational. Solve problems. Improve our world. Embrace differences. Enjoy & Celebrate. Work together.

Embrace the core values change and HAVE FUN in your FLL journey this season!

Juniper Networks, Emerald Knights, RoboRocks, Robonators, Exit 5 Robotics, Pitch in at NJ World Robot Olympiad (WRO) Qualifier

The 2nd annual NJ World Robot Olympiad (WRO) Qualifier at the Liberty Science Center blasted by us this past Saturday Aug 4th 2018 and it was all made possible with a healthy dose of 31 volunteers from all walks of STEM and robotics. Juniper Networks sponsored the event and Liberty Science Center graciously provided the venue. Thanks to volunteer staff including:

  • Emerald Knights FTC (FIRST Tech Challenge): Preston Wu – Design Award Judge, Anna Xia – Score Keeper, Angelina Chu – Interviews, David Samolkin – Video
  • RoboRocks: Shining Wang – Sideline Ambassador, Jim Wang – Elementary Category Referee, Geoffrey Zheng – Photography
  • Exit 5 Robotics VRC (VEX Robotics Challenge): Chloe Lam – Junior Category Referee, Tina Wu – Football (Soccer) Referee, Catherine Zhang – Elementary Category Referee, Erin Eagen – Emcee, Holly Lam – Event Organizer, Rachael Prokap – Sideline Ambassador
  • Spongebots FLL (FIRST Lego League): Kelly Eagen – Emcee
  • Robonators VRC: Punit Mahajan – Sideline Manager,  Sharan Peshin – Sideline Ambassador, Eshaan Mahajan – DJ
  • Exit 6 Brobotics: Ryan Lam – Sideline Ambassador, Bill Lam – Event Organizer
  • FTC Referees: Kathy Rutherford – Senior Category Referee, Yitao Yu – WeDo Referee
  • and thanks to Juniper Networks for supplying volunteers, Teamwork Awards, visitor gifts, and a photo booth!

Now the fastest growing robotics competition in NJ, nearly doubling in size from 11 teams in 2017 to 19 teams in 2018. WRO offers competition categories for elementary, junior high, and high school students. Competition categories include a selection of intensive programming and robotics building challenges for students from elementary to high school grades.

Thanks again to all the volunteers who made it possible for 19 teams to compete at this event. For more information on competing in 2019, contact BLam @ wro-usa DOT org.

LRC teams WINJAS and Exit 5A Robotics will be advancing to the WRO US Nationals.

Registration Open for NJ World Robot Olympiad Qualifier WRO at Liberty Science Center LSC Aug 4

World Robot Olympiad qualifier at Liberty Science Center on August 4th still has open spots. 16 teams are currently registered. It’s not too late to sign up a team. We already have one LRC team, Exit 5A Robotics busy getting ready for the qualifier.

Deadline to register is Friday July 27.

  • Build your robot in the morning, compete in the afternoon!
  • No coach or parent involvement at the event
  • Challenge rules are online at https://www.wro-usa.org/
  • 2 to 3 students per team
  • Mindstorms EV3
  • Competition Categories:
    • WeDo (using Lego WeDo system)
    • Elementary Regular (EV3)
    • Middle School Regular (EV3)
    • High School Regular (EV3)
    • Open Category (similar to FLL Project portion)
    • Soccer (EV3)

Spots are currently open for a few more teams. In 2017, three Livingston Robotics Club teams (Livebot – Elementary Category, Exit 5A Robotics – Junior Category, Exit 5 Robotics – Senior Category) qualified for WRO Nationals and two moved on to WRO World Finals in Costa Rica. This year’s World Finals will be held in Thailand in November 2018.

Sponsors: Lego Education, Juniper Networks, National Instruments

Contact blam@wro-usa.org for more information

 

Crossing the Finish Line of 2017/2018 Season with Design Award

Just completed the 2017/2018 VRC (VEX Robotics Competition) season today with the Design Award in the 60 team Open Category at the CREATE US Open Championships. A curiously circuitous path led us to this point, but we are definitely grateful to have gotten here. After a strong start to the VRC season, we reached the mid-point in early January a bit winded and uncertain of how the remainder of the season would finish out. The intricate balancing of family, school, sports, and recovering from the loss of five seniors finally seemed to have caught up with us. Building four robots for four competitions worked well until it didn’t at the 3rd & 4th qualifiers. With the help of long time e5’er, Erin Eagen, we even scratched out enough time to make a unique and witty video entry into the VEX Online challenge in the Girl Powered category. An hour of mentoring on time management was just the kick the our rookie all-boys sibling team, Exit 6 Brobotics, needed to win the top award at the NJ State VEX IQ Championships and qualify for the VEX World Championships.

We finally scaled back our ambitious robotics competition schedule with a renewed focus on learning and effective use of our time. Even with the respite, our 5th robot at our 5th qualifier in February yielded disappointing results. In parallel, as part of a three year effort, we finally gathered enough momentum to contact and recruit over 30 women’s robotics teams and STEM organizations for the 1st ever Women in Engineering Day at the Liberty Science Center, Feb 17, 2018. Great to see the participation rate ramping rapidly for young women in robotics. When we started in 2010, we were among three all-girls teams in NJ among all competition disciplines. Now in 2018, we find ourselves amidst a talented and successful crowd of over 30 young women’s robotics teams in NJ competing in FLL, VEX IQ, WRO, FTC, VRC, RCJ.

Returning to the drawing board with a 6th robot for the VRC NJ State Championships resulted in the Build Award and a moment of redemption. Aside from that, the 5 week run up to the CREATE US Open still gave us ample time to say “Hey…6 wasn’t enough, let’s make a 7th robot!” With a deep breath, we took the 6th robot and unceremoniously lopped off everything from the wheels up to create “Wally”, robot #7. With much of the team embroiled in ACT/SAT prep, the team decision to send only three members turned out to be fortuitous as they were refreshed, effective, and super cool at US Open. The season turned out to be a unexpected testament to effectiveness of unselfish individuals rising to meet the challenge for the overall gain of the team.

We plan to add 1 or 2 team members (9th-12th grades) to the 2018/2019 team. If you are interested, send us a message: e5r AT livingstonrobotics DOT org.

In the meantime, we’ll be resting up and looking forward to the 2018/2019 competition season of learning!

Design Award @ CREATE US Open Championships – Open Category

 

Build Award @ VRC NJ State Championships

1st Annual Women in Engineering Day @ Liberty Science Center with over 30 women’s robotics team and STEM organizations.

Looking back on 2017…

Looking back on Exit 5 Robotics’ 2017 year, it was quite the year, full of challenge, achievement, learning, and competition. New was the common theme for the year with new countries visited, new faces added, and new friends from new teams. 2017 kicked off with January and February competitions capturing Judges Awards and Build Awards at our VEX Robotics Competition (VRC) qualifiers. April saw us come within a few screw threads of a trophy at the CREATE US Open 1v1 competition, sliding in at 3rd place with an axle collar breaking loose in the middle of the match. It was a nice cap to the VRC season to make the US Open finals alliances and also be one of the few teams doing high lift score. In May, we had our annual outreach at the LRC Jr. FLL Expo running our VRC robot to fun filled exhaustion. Early summer was time to have our year end party, seeing off 5 long time seniors into engineering programs at Rutgers, Carnegie Mellon, and MIT, while at the same time bringing on 4 new team members. Jul, Aug, Sep, and Nov had 3 members of the team competing in World Robot Olympiad (WRO) Senior Regular Category at 4 different events, NJ Qualifier, Beijing Robocom Exhibition, US Nationals, and Costa Rica World Championships, respectively. In Oct/Nov, we embraced the Girl Powered Challenge, and helped get an all-girls VEX IQ (VIQ) team started. Closing out 2017, the hard work of the new team members and knowledge of returning veterans helped net the Think Award and Design Award at their Nov and Dec qualifiers for the 2017/2018 VRC season. Looking forward to another great year in 2018!

 

 

 

 

 

Livingston Robotics Club Teams Compete in State Championship

(LRC teams, Adroit Robotics, Spongebot, and RoboRocks with NJ FLL officials Ernie DiCicco and Monique Dituri)

On December 9, four LRC teams were among the 60 contestants in the Northern New Jersey FLL (FIRST LEGO League) Championship at Mt. Olive High School. The 4 teams carried the LRC tradition of award-winning performances in judging areas and robot games while making friends and having lots of fun!

Even though the FLL competition season has concluded for LRC teams, they will continue to present their projects and robot designs to local communities; and, most importantly, have fun through LRC gatherings and outreach activities.

The new season for the FLL Jr. is about to start. LRC will hold an Open House in January 2018 for Livingston Public Schools children ages 6-9 who have interest in LEGO robotics and science projects to form FLL Jr. teams. You can visit and like LRC Facebook page at www.facebook.com/LivingstonRobotics to receive an announcement on the Open House date.

LRC 2017 FLL Team Profiles

For the 2017 FLL season, LRC maintained a strong presence in Northern NJ with 10 teams, 3 of which are rookies. Here are some information and fun facts of some of the teams. Other teams have been included in previous posts on FLL qualifiers and championship.

Livingston Robotics Club Teams Compete in “Hydro Dynamics” Projects

(This is a press release for West Essex Tribune. More posts on LRC FLL teams are coming in the near future.)

The FIRST LEGO League (FLL) robotics competition encourages teams of young budding engineers and scientists to think about and help solve a real world-problem. Teams research projects, build teamwork skills and develop robot performance, design & strategy. This year, 10 teams from Livingston Robotics Club (LRC) are among 32,000 teams from 88 countries to participate in the competition. This year’s theme of “Hydro Dynamics” is about identifying and solving problems of human water cycle from water sourcing, delivery, conservation, to treatment.

LRC Kids Completed Toastmaster Youth Leadership Program

The 8-week Toastmaster Youth Leadership Program concluded with great success on Nov. 9 with group presentations by the kids on their FLL projects. The program was started on Sept. 21 (see earlier post on that) and organized by Yvonne Ferreira, a coach for the LRC FLL team Dino Thunder.

More than a dozen kids from 9 LRC FLL teams learned and practiced public speaking skills with mentors from the BASF Toastmaster Club, including:

  • President Jacqueline Purisima
  • Distinguished Toastmaster Charlie Walter
  • Bill Davenport, Vice President of Education
  • Philip Coniglio, Vice President of Membership
  • James Keenan
  • Kerry Sayther
  • Pauline Jarney, Girl Scout delegate

Expert Panel Presentation by 5 LRC FLL Teams

On Nov. 8, three Hydro Dynamics experts from our area visited the Livingston Robotics Club for an Expert Panel presentation by five LRC FLL teams on their projects.

As in a real FLL competition, each of the 5 teams (Robot Nation, Dino Thunder, Promethio, Spongebot, and RoboRocks) had 10 minutes to present their projects and answer questions from the experts, who provided not only insightful feedback on the projects, but also excellent suggestions for the presentations. It was a great learning and practice experience for all the kids and adults in the teams.

It was a great honor and privilege to have the experts help the team prepare for the upcoming FLL qualifiers. They were (from left to right on the first photo):

  • Nathan Kiracofe, Junior Utility Engineer of the Township of Livingston
  • Jessica Abramovici, Product Manager of BASF Pharma Solutions – North America, and member of the BASF Toastmasters Club
  • Matthew Beeney, Branch Manager of The Kennedy Companies

The title photo shows Team Dino Thunder with the experts, and the following photos show teams Promethio and RoboRocks during their presentations.

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