Earlier, I wrote a post on my rookie experience as a lego robotics team coach. Now, we hear the rest of the story! I am so pleased to share the work of my first guest blogger, The Professor. He wrote a personal narrative about a memorable moment in his life. The experience left an impact on me as well. Without further adieu:
Lego Tournament, Day Two
So, you have a mob of people here in the East freshman building. Now, split this mob into 23 teams. In one of these groups, you’ll find me amidst my friends in my Lego Robotics team, Team G.E.E.K., which is part of the mob. And we’re here for a reason.
The reason? To have fun. To finish off the day as the champion of the 1038 regional tournament.
Our team was 15th of the 16 teams going into the elimination tournament. Facing the 2nd ranked team wouldn’t be easy. The team, The Nano Killer Whales (from my school), had a high score so far of 165. Our team: 85.
First, let me get something straight. We have all had 3 runs of our robot, which are counted up in points (we get points by completing missions: move balls, lift things, etc.) and your highest run is counted as your score. From there, the top 16 teams move on to the elimination. The problem: you have 2:30 to do a run, with a possible score of 400 points (no one got over 200).
It was our turn. We eagerly (or not eagerly) took our place. My job was to keep my team behind the blue line and to call out who is operating the next program. Our first 2 people set up our first attachment, a plow-type contraption, onto our three-wheeled robot, nicknamed G.E.E.K.bot. Speaking of G.E.E.K.bot, all the robots were made out of LEGO NXT pieces and had an NXT, a computer brain the size of a pocket dictionary that acted as the control center. It moved using 2 NXT servo motors, which are precise electric motors that can measure distance. It had a third wheel in the back that turned with the robot. The NXT fit into the robot in an upward but slightly tilted back position. As of all the teams, the entire robot was made out of LEGO Technix pieces and LEGO wheels.
3! 2! 1! GO! Our robot wheeled out of base, scooped the bricks and the LEGO bike, and pushed them into the green grid area.
G.E.E.K.bot backed into base, the only place on the board that you can touch the robot on. The board is the enclosed space the robot moves on, roughly the size of a table. Next mission.
Leaving the plow on, this program’s operators put the tall thin bricks in the plow. Out went G.E.E.K.bot. It pushed them, turned left, and ALL 5 were on the red colored area.
“Woo Hoo!” we yelled.
The next people ran out to run the next program. They attached our platform (mounted on a servo motor to tilt), lined it up, and loaded on the LEGO person.
“GOGOGOGOGO!” we all yelled, mostly me.
G.E.E.K.bot dropped the person on the picture of the city, and backed into base. The next operators put on the polar bear figure, the LEGO person, and the LEGO snowmobile. G.E.E.K.bot turned under the weight. It dropped the objects over the barrier, and the polar bear was standing up! 5 bonus points!
Not that I was watching them, but I saw the Nano Killer Whales robot crash into the LEGO house.
SNAP OUT OF IT! YOUR TURN! My brain screamed at me. I dropped my card and scrambled over to base.
5, 4, 3!
I lined up as fast as I could and frantically pushed the button.
1! Off it went.
Weooweooweooweooweooweoo! The siren squealed. G.E.E.K.bot was already going, so I figured that it would still count. The only sound was G.E.E.K.bot’s buzzing noise. The platform was off, and in the scoop’s place was the wedge. G.E.E.K.bot drove the length of the board to the barrier. It hit the barrier and the wedge lifted up the front of the robot. It went up and… it stalled, spinning its wheels.
Shoot. My program had to be the ONLY one that failed, but looking on the bright side of that, everything else worked. A judge counted up our score.
Now we waited. We looked up at the scoreboard screen for our score. 105! A mind-boggling score for us, but The Nano Killer Whales were capable of more. Their robot crashing into the house played through my head.
There! The sound of cheering must have blasted the score right out of my brain. I think it was 75. The Nano Killer Whales all had their mouths hanging.
“WE WON!” we all were yelling. Our other rival team already lost, so we were the best at of the three (I don’t think so, we just got lucky, but who cares!?).
Next round, we were done. NOTHING worked; we ended up with something like 60 points. We were all bummed out, but we couldn’t have done better, judging on practices.
I was surprised to win the robot design award, because as far as I know, we copied the robot out of a manual (which is within the rules). The Nano Killer Whales went on to the state championship, along with W.E.S.T., our mentor team, and two others.
Of the mob of teams that entered today, 4 teams are happy because they get to move on and at least one person (me) is coming back next year, having learned a lesson: don’t give up, because there is always a chance to do it.
Now there is a message that I can embrace every day. Thank you, Professor, for sharing your work with the world.
Great job Professor B. from the University of Wisconsin! (The Professor neglected to mention his expert knowledge of solar energy.) Team G.E.E.K. is my favorite team! I can’t wait to see what you all do this Fall! Did you know that GEEK is the new cool????????
Herbert H Koenen said:
Great story. You made me a proud grandpa.
Cindy Zahneis said:
The Professor is a chip off the ol’ block!
I’ll second that!
Wow. The Prof = crazy good writer.