North Engineering Robotics Design Squad
12-16-2019 AMAZING! Our NERDS are ALL winners!
We already knew that our NERDS were all winners, we had won in so many ways already- from learning how to design in CAD, to collaborating with teams from across the state, to getting the robot to do that one challenge that seemed too difficult, to building complex prototypes, to growing friendships, and on and on and on.....
And then this past weekend we went to the North Sound Regional Qualifying Tournament at Cascade High School and we were BLOWN AWAY by how amazing our NERDS were.
First, some observations:
- "Can we go help them?" was something I heard our teams say over and over again. Can we go help that team with their robot? Can we go help those volunteers set that up? Can we go help organize that over there? Can we help... Can we help?...
- Gracious Professionalism and Sportsmanship are contagious- our teams kept surprising other teams with by doing "unexpected things" like going over to shake hands after the robot game, or when they came out of the judging room, or THANKING the volunteers for volunteering (one volunteer said that nobody had thanked them yet that day!). Later in the day, some of those same teams were following along. We love that our kids were able to spread kindness in this way.
- Sometimes things go wrong. One of our robots had a bad day. It happens. One of our project prototypes broke. The kids fixed it. The way our kids responded again and again to disappointments, challenges, and "bad things" showed so much maturity, grace, and confidence. We are so proud to be the coaches of these teams!
- NERDzilla brought their A game to their project and earned EXEMPLARY scores from the judges for their Research and their Innovative Solution. They also rocked the Robot Design Judging, with Exemplary scores in their Robot Game Strategy and Innovation. The Judges recognized their quality as a team with the coveted JUDGES AWARD, this year entitled "The Model FLL Team".
- Macho Nacho NERDS brought extreme enthusiam to the day and earned an EXEMPLARY score from the judges in their Project Research and Innovative Solution. That combined with a good showing on the robot game table was enough to earn them an Advancement to the Western WA State Semi Finals!
- NERDS the Smarties were bright, colorful, and spreading kindness and coopertition all day. The earned EXEMPLARY scores from the judges for their teamwork, inspiration, and gracious professionalism. The also were selected by the judges to recieve the 1st Place Robot Design: Programming Award! Their hard work payed off and they will also Advance to the Western WA State Semi Finals!
- QiiWii NERDS showed that we are stronger together than apart! They earned EXEMPLARY scores in almost all areas: Project: Research, Innovative Solution, Core Values: Inspiration, Teamwork, Gracious Professionalism, and Robot: Strategy and Innovation! Amazing! Their joyful approach to the day earned them the 1st Place in Core Values: Inspiration Award and they will also Advance to the Western WA State Semi Finals!
That is right folks! THREE NERDS teams will be moving on the the Western WA Semi Finals! and THREE NERDS teams came home with Trophies recognizing their amazing efforts!
11-21-2019 Innovation Projects: Experts and Prototypes
Did you know that one of the great sayings about FIRST LEGO League is "It's not all about the robot"?
The robots are just one small piece of the picture. The NERDS teams are also working hard on an INNOVATION PROJECT about this year's theme: City Shaper. This year, teams need to IDENTIFY A PROBLEM with a building or public space in their community, RESEARCH that problem with a variety of sources, including EXPERTS in a related field of study, DEVELOP an INNOVATIVE SOLUTION that has the potential to solve their problem, and present their solution to audiences that could actually benefit from their ideas.
Our four teams have the following Innovation Projects in progress:
- NERDS the Smarties have a plan to make cars run on garbage to solve both overcrowded landfills and the overuse of fossil fuels.
- The Macho Nacho NERDS, are developing "Permeable Pavement Cubes", a new kind of permeable pavement to solve stormwater street flooding.
- NERDSzilla have developed PowerPipes, microturbines that produce electricity from the flow of water in your building's plumbing
- The QiiWii NERDS made a talking monster garbage can that tells jokes and thanks you for throwing away your trash (in multiple languages)- keeping school cafeterias clean.
Our teams have to contact experts about their ideas as part of their research and presentations. Imagine my surprise when I get an email, thanking me for letting my kids take the iniative of setting up a guest speaker from the PUD Hydropower project. The NERDzilla team called up the PUD and arranged for an engineer as a guest speaker without my help! Jason Cohn brought in hydropower demos, and worked them through the math of how to determine whether their microturbines would generate enough power for a building.
Many teams just leave their ideas at the "idea" stage- perhaps making drawings or lego models of their plan. Our Qiiwii NERDS this year have built a complete working model of their idea, and have even begun testing it out in the school cafeteria! Their garbage monster has been happily eating garbage and telling the North MS students "THANK YOU!".
11-5-2019 Core Values: Impact and Fun!
In FLL, teams adhere to the CORE VALUES:
One way we can Impact the world around us is by sharing what we do with others! NERDzilla and QiiWii, along with a few kids from other teams joined forces today and led a troop of Daisy Girl Scouts (1st graders) in activities to earn their three robotics badges "What Robots do" "How Robots Move" and "Design a Robot". The teams demonstrated and talked about their robots and the FLL City Shaper game, helped the girls program a Botley robot, and build tiny vibration bug robots with the girls that they could take home. The daisy troop then thanked the NERDS by teaching us some songs! (There was a TINY mouse! With TINY feet! It sat upon a TOILET SEAT!)
10-16-2019 Core Values: Discovery!
In FLL, teams adhere to the CORE VALUES:
Our teams often choose a favorite core value to focus on for the year. For example, last year the Smarties focused on IMPACT on our school community and positive culture. This year our NERDzilla team is focusing on DISCOVERY. A highlight so far: One team member is learning how to model in CAD so that he can prototype the team's solution to their innovation project. He is using youtube tutorials to help teach himself. Another team member is working on learning how electrical generators work. They are enjoying learning and applying new skills (not just robot-related skills either!)
10-3-2019 Teams are Making Excellent Progress!
We have heard the exciting news that FOUR of our teams get to represent North at Regionals this year (Usually we only have funding and space for three). Teams are working hard to show that they have the core values, robot skills, and innovation to be the best of the NERDS.
Our eight teams (in no particular order) this year are:
- Cherry NERDS
- All Flavor NERDS
- Binary NERDS
- NERDS the Smarties
- NERDSy Neon Nachos
- NERDS Qiiwiis
- Meme NERDS
Some excellent things we saw this week:
The Smarties, QiiWiis, NERDSzilla, and Nachos all have strong foundations for their INNOVATION PROJECTS. This year teams are looking to solve problems with public spaces or buildings in our communities. The Smarties are currently looking into a way to turn park trash into fresh soil, NERDzilla is designing a way to harness the electrical power of the cities public water systems, The QiiWiis are trying to find a way to stop littering in parks by making trash cans fun and interactive, and the Nachos are looking to solve homelessness.
In the ROBOT design world we've seen the Nachos and the Binary NERDS already testing their robots on the game field, and the Smarties, QiiWiis, and NERDzilla all have strong base robot designs almost ready to go too.
All the teams are working hard and making excellent progress!
9-17-2019 Welcome to a NEW Season!
We have kicked off the 2019 Season in the brand new Robotics Lab and MakerSpace and I can tell that it is going to be AMAZING! We have 60 students who have stepped up to be in the North Engineering Robotics Design Squad this year! SIXTY!
Mr. Margason and I are very excited to be starting the "City Shaper" Season with you. We've split into eight initial teams (the teams are still working on their team identities) and started to tackle this year's challenge. Teams are strategizing about the Robot Game and brainstorming about their Innovation Projects. In November we will be selecting the three teams that will represent the NERDS at the Regional event.
5-16-2019 Everett District Robotics Tournament
The "Nerdy NERDS" showed how "grace under pressure" works as they all worked together to try to overcome the odds as everything literally fell apart at the district tournament. This team made us proud as they kept their chin up, their enthusiasm, and their teamwork even when their little robot Yube and her attachments took a tumble and parts went flying right at game time.
Their little robot that normally could score a respectable 96 points (a 1st place sort of score), didn't manage to have a good day today, leaving the NERDS in 11th place. It is OK though- because what we saw was a team that didn't break down when the robot broke down, and that made our day!
3-11-2019 Geekwire Robotics Cup!
A huge thumbs up and congratulations to the NERDS who rocked it at the Geekwire Robotics Cup last week. The NERDS came in 6th place in the robot game AND won the TEAM SPIRIT award. This means that these NERDS are the first robotics team in North MS history to complete the trifecta by winning tournament awards in ALL THREE categories (robot, research project, and core values.) in a single year! WAY TO GO NERDS!
This was such a fun event with teams from all over Washington State. We loved meeting everyone and seeing the interesting solutions to the robot game!