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Los Altos Robotics FLL Coaches Training September 14, 2008 Organization and Schedule Coaching Guidelines Challenge Overview Research Project Overview Game.

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Presentation on theme: "Los Altos Robotics FLL Coaches Training September 14, 2008 Organization and Schedule Coaching Guidelines Challenge Overview Research Project Overview Game."— Presentation transcript:

1 Los Altos Robotics FLL Coaches Training September 14, 2008 Organization and Schedule Coaching Guidelines Challenge Overview Research Project Overview Game Overview Tournament Judging Procedures break New Coaches Training –The Basics –Competitions –Robot Construction & Programming –Coach’s Guide Michael Schuh –Leading the Team Michael Murray

2 Los Altos Robotics Supports Los Altos Robotics Competitions Organizes the local FLL competition. Board meeting schedule is on the website; you are welcome to attend and help out. IntroductionsAnnouncements

3 Season Timeline 11 weeks to design, build, program and test Challenge was revealed on September 5 th Local scrimmage Oct 26 th 1:00-5:00 at Blach School Local competition Nov 23 rd 1:00-6:00 at Blach School State tournament in January for teams that qualify. Make sure that everybody on your team knows these dates (check your calendar).

4 Team Registration 1. The team must register with the national FLL organization If you have not registered by Sept. 15, you are likely to miss the season. register with the national FLL organization register with the national FLL organization 2. The team must register with Los Altos Robotics. Registration does not guarantee a place at the LAR tournament in November. register with Los Altos Robotics. register with Los Altos Robotics. 3. The team must register with the Northern California FLL organization (NCaFLL). Registration opens around September 30th and is free. When you register, indicate that you want to participated in the Los Altos Robotics qualifying tournament. Also select 2nd and 3rd choices. register with the Northern California FLL organization (NCaFLL) register with the Northern California FLL organization (NCaFLL) Join the “tigerbots” Yahoo group. Details are at the webpage

5 Coaching Guidelines The coach is the most important role in making FLL successful. Begin with the end in mind: Get kids excited about science and technology. Make it fun. Responsibilities for Los Altos Robotics: –Register your team –Bring your playing field and challenge kit to the local scrimmage or competition as requested –Provide parent volunteers

6 FLL TEAM Core Values: We are a team. We do the work to find the solutions with guidance from our coaches and mentors. We honor the spirit of friendly sportsmanship. What we discover is more important than what we win. We share our experiences with others. We display Gracious Professionalism in everything we do. We have fun!

7 FLL Coaches’ Promise As coach, you are responsible for honoring and communicating FLL core values to team members, team volunteers, and others affiliated with your team. All teams are expected to abide by FLL rules and guidelines as they exist now and as they may be set forth during the season. Team rules, guidelines, and policies and procedures are detailed in this handbook. Any updates, additions, participant consent forms, and volunteer recruitment, screening, and supervision guidelines for the team will be communicated to FLL coaches via and posted on the FIRST LEGO® League section of All teams are expected to abide by FLL rules and guidelines as they exist now and as they may be set forth during the season. Team rules, guidelines, and policies and procedures are detailed in this handbook. Any updates, additions, participant consent forms, and volunteer recruitment, screening, and supervision guidelines for the team will be communicated to FLL coaches via and posted on the FIRST LEGO® League section of

8 Coaches’ Promise My Promise as Coach: 1) The kids come first. FLL is about the kids having fun and getting excited about science and technology. Everything my team does starts and ends with that principle. 2) The kids do the work. This is their opportunity to learn and grow. The kids on my team do all of the programming, research, problem solving, and building. Adults can help them find the answers, but cannot give them the answers or make the decisions. 3) My team is comprised of ten or fewer members (all team members participate on only one team), registered as an official FLL team, and all team members are no older than 14 on January 1st of the Challenge year.

9 Coaches’ Promise 4) FLL communicates with my team via my primary address, and I am responsible for reading and relaying all aspects of FLL guidelines and rules to my team, other coaches, volunteers, and parents. 5) I will encourage my team members, other coaches, volunteers, and team supporters to develop and practice a set of FLL Values that reflects FIRST’s goal to change culture in a positive way by inspiring others through our team’s actions and words. 5) I will encourage my team members, other coaches, volunteers, and team supporters to develop and practice a set of FLL Values that reflects FIRST’s goal to change culture in a positive way by inspiring others through our team’s actions and words.

10 Coaching Resources Coaches’ Handbook (read it!) –Judging rubrics FLL Website (new website) –Project & Game Rules; check back for updates –Videos of Game Challenges –Judging: Blog etc. (U of Minnesota) Mindstorm NXT Kit Guide Other coaches and team mentors

11 The Challenge

12 The challenge announcement went out September 5 on the FLL web page. The theme this year is “Climate Challenge” “Embark on an exploration of the earth's climate in the Climate Connections Challenge! Discover the links between science, people, resources and communities. Unearth how we learn about past climates and delve into questions surrounding our current and future climatic conditions.” There are two parts the challenge –Research Project –Robot Missions

13 The Research Project (Warren) The research project is an assignment related to the theme of the competition to: –Find a Problem –Find a Solution –Prepare a presentation (be creative!) The Research Project is announced as a part of the challenge. There is a very detailed description and it is related to this year’s theme. The description is intended to suggest or allow for the project to be as sophisticated as the team wants it to be. The team should pick a project that matches their interests and capabilites.

14 Research Project Presentation The project is presented at the competitions (not at the scrimmage) in a 10 minute time slot; 5 minutes for presentation and 5 minutes for judges’ questions. Practice and time your presentation to fit in the 5 minutes! Judges will ask questions about the project and will give a poor teamwork score if all of the kids are not involved and knowledgeable.

15 The Robot Missions The challenge is a set of “missions” which are to be done by the robot on the playing field. Your team’s robot has two minutes and thirty seconds to score as many points as possible up to a maximum of 400 points. Read the 2008 challenge mission description carefully and interpret it literally. Don’t assume anything. Your team needs to understand it. (Video too) In a competition two tables are set side by side and there is a common mission set up on both tables this year.

16 Playing Field Tips Your robot needs to work well on any playing field, not just the one you use: –Put playing field on a level surface to avoid sagging or any unevenness –Take care in building the LEGO structures –Place the LEGO structures on the mat properly (best for an adult to do this) –Place the mat in the Southwest corner! –Make sure that your mat is flat: Reverse roll your mat You can use hair drier to ease out wrinkles if needed

17 Robot Tips Battery Management: make sure you have a consistent battery level at the competitions Practice your runs with teamwork and a time limit; budget the time. Strive for repeatability and tolerance for variation in the mission solutions (create your team’s own “4of5” rule for repeatability)

18 Tournament Judging Challenge is designed by Scott Evans. He defines and clarifies the robot rules. New FLL Judge Advisor is Skip Gridley (he has a blog on the FLL website). Results will be less quantitative than in the past. Local Judges are volunteers with relevant experience and training specific to this judging. Judging is imperfect and subjective but it works well. The Judges are very dedicated and do the best possible job they can. Judging is imperfect and subjective but it works well. The Judges are very dedicated and do the best possible job they can.

19 Tournament Judging The weighting for the overall score is: – 25% Robot Performance –25% Research Project –25% Teamwork and FLL Values –25% Robot Design: (Robot construction and Programming) There are lots of things that your team can be good at. Don’t just focus on robot performance…

20 Awards (subject to change) Champion’s Award Technical Awards –Robot Design Award –Robot Performance Award –Team Presentation Awards –Project Award –Teamwork Award Special Recognition Awards –Outstanding Volunteer Award –Adult Coach/Mentor Award –Young Adult Mentor Award Optional Judges’ Awards –Against All Odds Award or Perseverance Award –Rising Star Award –Team Spirit Award Additional awards can be added at the discretion of the judges. There are lots of awards beyond robot performance!

21 Judging- Coaches’ involvement Judges will be on the lookout for inappropriate coach involvement. It will hurt the teams scoring. Judges will ask questions like: “Who decided ?” and “Who’s idea was it to do ?” Coaches should not be the ones working with the robot or the program at the competition. Coaches should not be the ones working with the robot or the program at the competition.

22 Gracious Professionalism Gracious professionalism has purposefully been left somewhat undefined because it can and should mean different things to each of us. Gracious professionalism has purposefully been left somewhat undefined because it can and should mean different things to each of us. Some examples for me: –Mutual respect and teamwork. –Help other teams (loan parts, mentor) –Cheer other teams’ successes: “cool robot!”

23 How I set my Coaching Limits Don’t modify or generally even touch the robot Don’t modify the program (don’t touch the keyboard) Solve only infrastructure problems, not the challenge problems. When you think something should be fixed, get the team to do it, not you. If they are really stuck talk them through it and teach them how to debug problems. When they ask “Should I do it this way?” I say: “What do you think? Ask Nicky what he thinks. How is this better? Try it and see if it works.”

24 New Coaches’ Training Returning coaches are welcome to stay to learn or contribute.

25 The Way This All Works……. FIRST LEGO League provides the structure and rules of the competition. Local parents and volunteers set up, organize and run the competition in a way that is fun and fair, adhering to the FLL rules. Los Altos Robotics was set up to run the Los Altos competitions. This training provides information about the local competition and our advice on how you can organize and coach your team.

26 What you need A team of 4-10 kids; 9-14 years old Location: need to choose a home to meet at. It is best if it is always the same location so the board remains undisturbed. Table: order 4'x8' table from Los Altos Robotics Challenge kit (order with your FLL registration) Robot kits: at least one but it is best to have one for each two kids (good to have extra LEGOs). Computer(s): Best to have one computer for each two team members and at least one laptop to bring to competitions.

27 Meeting Schedule 2 meetings per week is recommended. About 2 hours in duration; less time is inefficient Schedule meetings to fit with other activities. Fri/Sun seems to work well. Example: Friday 3:30 to 5:30 & Sunday 1:00 to 4:00. Fri/Sun seems to work well. Example: Friday 3:30 to 5:30 & Sunday 1:00 to 4:00. Meetings may be more frequent closer to competitions. Coaches: add prep time to player commitment of 4-6 hours / week

28 Parent Involvement Coach: the guide, project advisor, project manager, not hands-on challenge solver - leave it to the kids. Asst. coach: supports coach in prep time and team meetings. Could direct the research project effort to offload the Coach. Team manager: helps with team organization, meeting scheduling and other admin activities. Guest session by experienced team: It’s OK to ask for help, especially helpful for new teams. More than once during the season may be helpful. Volunteer to help out at the scrimmage and competitions.

29 The Robot Challenge Kit The challenge kit is shipped to teams that have registered with FLL (a separate registration from Los Altos Robotics). It includes: –A 4’ x 8’ mat –The Challenge Kit; several hundred LEGOs. –A CD with the instructions for building the models (about 200 pages in color). –3M Dual Lock Fasteners to attach the LEGO models to the mat. –There is a field setup guide announced with the challenge telling where and how to attach the models to the mat. It is important to do this properly and precisely so that your team missions attempts will work well on other tables.

30 The Robot Missions The challenge is a set of “missions” which are to be done by the robot on the playing field. Your team’s robot has two minutes and thirty seconds to score as many points as possible up to a maximum of 400 points. Read the 2008 challenge mission description carefully and interpret it literally. Don’t assume anything. Your team needs to understand it. In a competition two tables are set side by side and there is a shared mission set up on both tables this year.

31 The Rules You and your team should also read “The Rules” carefully. Note that any LEGOs are allowed, not just those in the robot kit. Electrical parts are the only thing that is restricted. Make sure that you know what electrical parts are allowed (only one “brick”, three motors, etc.) Make sure that you and your team understand and follow the rules for “The Base”. The base where the robot is launched from. There are penalties for touching the robot outside of the base. The score is determined at the end of the match, by the condition of the field at that time only.

32 Mission and Rule Clarifications Check back periodically to look for updates to the Q&A on the FLL web page. The “Rules” page tells how to questions about the robot game part of the challenge. If you think that your robot strategy might violate the rules use this resource to get a clarification. This is the only reliable source for correct answers about the challenge. Answers are now posted for all teams to consider. Check regularly!

33 Competitions The competitions are the opportunity for the kids to show what they have accomplished and put their robots to the test in a competitive environment. At the competitions each team will have a schedule for when they will run their robots, present their research project, meet with the judges, and do their three robot mission attempts. Each team will have multiple robot missions runs of two minutes and thirty seconds each (the time limit could change this year, check the challenge). They will compete with another team at an adjacent table to get as many points as possible. Team match ups are rotated so that your team will face three different teams.

34 Competitions There is time between runs (usually around ½ hour) to repair problems and there are practice tables available to help teams with last minute checks and practices. It is common for teams to have widely different scores from run to run depending on how well the robot performed that time. Don’t let them get discouraged if they get a low score on their first run. Bring a computer to the competition in case you need to reload the programs. Bring extra legos to use to make needed changes.

35 Competitions The coaches manual has a very nicely detailed section on “Awards and Judging Criteria”. Read it well before the competitions so that you and your team know what to expect. Volunteers are needed to make the competitions work. Parents from each team are expected to volunteer. For the Los Altos competitions the organizers has recruited and developed a number of judges but new ones are always needed.

36 Scrimmage The Los Altos Scrimmage is October 14 from 1:00PM to 5:00PM at Blach School in the Multipurpose room. Your team should expect to be at the scrimmage for the full 4 hours; there is a lot to do and see. The scrimmage is an opportunity to learn how the competition works and see what other teams are doing.

37 Scrimmage Have your team ready to do whatever they can do. Many teams only attempt one or two missions at the scrimmage. The scrimmage is scheduled early in the season so that new teams really understand the local competition in time to prepare for it. Each team will have as many robot mission attempts as time permits. The scrimmage is not a full competition; there is no team judging or project presentation. Some informal awards presented on paper certificates.

38 State Competition 64 Northern California teams met at the state competition in Fremont last year. Each team will have three robot mission attempts. There is a fee to compete in the state competition. It is run by volunteers but there are substantial expenses that are not covered by sponsorships. Lego Trophies are awarded to the top teams. The 2008 State Competition is not scheduled yet. Check the Los Altos Robotics or FLL web pages for updates. Teams that don’t qualify to compete are encouraged to attend the state competition. There is no admission fee for spectators at any of the competitions.

39 Questions ?

40 MINDSTORM NXT

41 MINDSTORMS NXT Rotation sensors integrated into the motors. Programs are downloaded through a USB cable. NXT “brick” is “studless”; there are no lego studs on it, only Lego technics connections. Graphical programming interface (LABVIEW) Requires 800Mhz Windows XP (there is a workaround for slower machines) or 600Mhz PowerPC Macintosh

42 Robot Construction Your kit has instruction for building a simple robot. That is a good starting point for a first year team’s robot. Improve on it. Make sure that it is a solid construction: Triangles are stronger than rectangles so use cross-bracing. Do drop testing…or have the coach pick it up and see if it breaks. Use multiple pegs to connect two beams for a solid connection. Learn all the ways to connect technic pieces and axles; right angle connections are particular important to understand.

43 Robot Construction Axles are useful for light weight construction, particularly for “arms” to manipulate objects. Drive wheel should be treaded for traction. Turn wheels or supports should be plastic to allow them to slide. Larger wheels make the robot go faster. If your team has an idea for a completely new robot build it with another kit and keep the old one as a backup. It helps to have a lot of technic style pieces to build from. You can get more from: –bricklink.com –Ebay.com

44 NXT Programming LABVIEW provides an easy way to: –Enable motors by time or rotations –Branch based on sensor input. –Add comments Coach them on a good naming and version system for their programs. The controller can give sensor readouts on its display. The controller can give sensor readouts on its display. –You can push the robot and see how many rotations it has made.

45 Debugging Labview is pretty robust to the robot is usually trying to do exactly what you told it to do. Try running the robot with it’s wheels off of the table to see what it is trying to do. Make sure the wires are connected. Add a beep or a wait between blocks in the program to help track what is happening. Debugging is one of the best learning experiences they will have. But it can also be very frustrating; go slow, think, and use teamwork.

46 Navigation Dead reckoning: start the robot in the same place repeatably; be creative. Align to the wall Use light sensor to track the mat (programming can be challenging) Use the Lego objects on the mat.

47 Mission Strategy Most teams use multiple programs which each leave and return to base. This allows an opportunity to retry or skip missions. Most teams reconfigure the robot when it comes back to base. Make as few turns and the smallest turns needed to improve accuracy. Be creative!

48 Questions ?

49 Michael Schuh

50 Your Goals for the Team Figure out what your goals are for your team. Figure out what your goals are for your team. For me, my goals are for them to enjoy building and programming robots so much that they look forward to coming to the meetings and want to do it again next year. All teams should have fun and do their best.

51 Coaching Style Keep it fun for the team. I try to help children overcome hurdles that they have been stuck on for an hour or so. I make a few comments from time to time, but for the most part I stay out of the way. I try to help children overcome hurdles that they have been stuck on for an hour or so. I make a few comments from time to time, but for the most part I stay out of the way. I encourage the children to take charge of the meetings and run them. This works better with older kids. I try to get other parents to let the children do the work. Let's face it, this robotics stuff is fun and it is hard for the parents to let the children have all the fun. I try to get other parents to let the children do the work. Let's face it, this robotics stuff is fun and it is hard for the parents to let the children have all the fun.

52 Things that have worked for me Begin each meeting with a review of what happened at the last meeting and what needs to be done at this meeting. Keep it short. Half way through the meeting and at the end of the meeting, I get the team to run against the challenge. Half way through the meeting and at the end of the meeting, I get the team to run against the challenge. Try to be positive. Try to keep a good ratio of good to critical statements. Try to be positive. Try to keep a good ratio of good to critical statements. Use a timer to set up ten minute time slots to share the computer(s), robots, and/or the playing field. Teams need help understanding the time line of the competition season. Print out a simple calendar that shows all the weeks of the season with meetings, holidays, and competitions labeled.

53 More Things that have worked for me Try to get the team members to pick out one or two missions and own them. Then they are the ones that are responsible for doing all of the building and programming for that mission. Try to get the team members to pick out one or two missions and own them. Then they are the ones that are responsible for doing all of the building and programming for that mission. At the competitions, only two team members are allowed at the table at a time. No coaches. Have the team members cycle through the missions. Child 1 does mission one and then child 2 trades places with her and does mission 2 and so on. A good schedule is to meet Friday evening or afternoon right after school and Sunday afternoon at 1:00 PM for 2 to 2.5 hours.

54 Things to avoid: Don‘t "help" the team see what is wrong with their robot so that they can fix it and score more points. Coaches and parents that do this end up putting a lot of pressure on the team and the fun goes out of FLL for the team. Don‘t "help" the team see what is wrong with their robot so that they can fix it and score more points. Coaches and parents that do this end up putting a lot of pressure on the team and the fun goes out of FLL for the team. I have seen teams where the coaches know way too much about the robot. The coaches know the entire construction and programming of the robot. It is OK to help some; however, let the team members do the fun building and programming.

55 Meeting Plans: Set Goals At the first meeting, have each team member and the coaches talk about what their hopes and goals are for the season and write them down. For the 2006 season, our team's coaches' hopes and goals were: –That the team works together through the entire season. –That team members take on leadership roles in team meetings. –That team members learn to work with each other and respect each other. –That all individuals feel comfortable with voicing ideas.

56 Meeting Plans: Set Goals Some of my 2005 seventh grader team members' goals and hopes were to: –Do well in competition(s). –Have a calendar showing team meetings and times. –Work together well. –Have a build schedule and follow it. –Have after-hour sessions and do them. –Have positive enthusiastic encouragement. –Have good kit organization and return parts where they go.

57 Meeting Plans: Getting Started After recording your team's hopes and goals and your robot kit arrives, go through the programming training lessons with the team. The team members usually love to put together LEGO kits and are usually very good at it. This can be a good break from the training exercises. Once the game is announcedprint out the game description and rules and go through them with the team. Once the game is announcedprint out the game description and rules and go through them with the team. The FLL coaches guide talks about doing brain storming to come up with good ideas, but I have not had much luck with this. The kids can get frustrated if the coach wants to them to talk too much instead of working with the robot.

58 Meeting Plans: Ongoing Once you have made it through the training, exercises, building the playing field elements, and understanding the game and the rules, most of the meetings will be designing, building, programming, and test runs. Try and get the team to settle on a good base structure for the robot as soon as possible so that they can move on to design attachments and program the robot. Try to get the team to lock down their design a few weeks before the tournaments and run their robot over and over again to sort out the bugs.

59 Problem Team Members and Parents It is not uncommon for a team to have difficulty with some team members or overly helpful parents. Usually they respond well to clearly defined boundaries and the problems are quickly dealt with and go away. I suggest: Deal with them directly because bad experiences with fellow team members and coaches are high on the list of reasons children do not return for another season. Talk to the person one-on-one out of ear shot of the rest of the team or outside of team meeting hours.

60 Problem Team Members and Parents If problems with a child persist for two or more meetings, require one of the child's parents to be there to take care of the child. Have the child take a time out in another room or call a parent and have them taken home. If this does not work, remove them from the team. While this is not fun to do, it may make the difference between your child participating in FLL again next year or not.

61 Michael Murray

62 Have you ever worked on a project where: The team members lacked experience with the core technology to be utilized on the project? The team members had not worked with each other before? There was no clear leader for the team? Some of the team members discovered they didn't really want to be on the project? Everyone thought things should be done their way, but was inexperienced at conveying their ideas to others?

63 Have you ever worked on a project where: There was far more work than time available? The team members acted like children? ________________________ ________________________ Under these circumstances, it would not be surprising if the team made little progress and the team members were unhappy. Your job as coach is to guide your kids into a successful team experience. FLL is a great program because it exposes kids to the issues that real engineers face in developing products. You'll need to decide what you want to teach:

64 Engineering research and design Mechanical design: Structures, sensors, drive trains, friction, stress Real-time programming Design options: Speed vs. precision, sensors vs. dead reckoning, Mission groupings, manipulator strategies Improving a design: Theory vs. tinkering Design of experiments to resolve uncertainty Creativity: Generating alternatives

65 Project management Breaking a project into phases Exploration vs. planning Managing project scope and schedule Dividing work among team members; integrating individual efforts Robot design Robot running Project presentation Version control

66 Teamwork values Perseverance Mutual support Accepting responsibility Dealing with mistakes Synergy Understanding different working styles Mutual support

67 Questions ?

68 Crowd Control Team Size –Generally 4-6 members is a good size –3 members can compete but there is more work –4 works well for us 2 pairs Rotate tasks so both pairs are building and programing

69 Crowd Control Motivation –Younger participants Lots of encouragement and guidance Celebrate accomplishments –Older participants Lots of encouragement and guidance Generally are returning and therefore are aware of the challenges Internally motivated

70 Crowd Control Team Member Harmony –If two participants are not getting along, try to point out anything that is similar between them as it occurs Solved the problem the same way Wear the same shoes –They will begin to realize that they aren’t that different

71 Crowd Control Disruptive Behavior –Discuss with the individual –Ask them to leave the room for awhile and burn some energy –Discuss with parents –Ask their parent to attend the meeting –Ask them not to participate any longer Overly helpful parents: Usually they respond well to clearly defined boundaries. Talk to the person one-on-one out of ear shot of the team or outside of team meeting hours.

72 Crowd Control Food –Kids eat a lot at this age!!! –Be sure that the parents know to have given them a snack before sending them to practice –During a two hour practice, take a 10-minute break midway through and provide a healthy snack Snacks can be supplied by the various parents

73 Questions Returning Coaches: What did we forget to present? What do you wish that somebody told you before your first season? New Coaches: What was confusing ? General Questions Closing Remarks


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