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July Newsletter

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Greetings FLL Community,

For most teams it’s the offseason, but for us at South Carolina FIRST LEGO League & Robotics Education we’re hard at work as we prepare for the upcoming Animal Allies season. We’ve been working to set the South Carolina event schedule and to come up with new coaching support material. Stay tuned as we roll out new resources for the next exciting FIRST LEGO League season.

Before we get to the announcements we would like to thank all the teams that joined us last month at the Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia.

We had a great time learning about various animals and how they interaction with humans. Special thanks needs to go out to the SC FLL Volunteer Coordinator, Brandy Incorvia, for organizing the event.

As we continue looking forward and prepare for the next FIRST LEGO League season we have a few important announcements. We’re now accepting nominations for Team Hardship Grants. Also, with more exposure comes more interest in participating in our great program. Below we share information on how to make connections between teams and kids looking for teams. Lastly, don’t forget that just because we’re in the offseason it doesn’t mean our robots need to collect dust. This month’s Offseason Robot Workout challenges teams to gently interact with mission models.

As always, if you have any questions, suggestions, or concerns please feel free to drop us a line at FLL@scrobotics.org.

Happy Building,
Rubbo

 


Registration for Animal Allies is now open

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Registration for the Animal Allies season is now open! To register for the upcoming season head over to the FIRST LEGO League official webpage on the firstinspires.orgwebsite.

As you register for the new season there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Each team must have two coaches that have passed Youth Protection Policy(YPP) screening and they must check the boxes stating that they agree to the YPP Policies and to the Terms & Conditions for the season before the team will be able to pay their team registration fee to FIRST.
  • The Field Setup Kit is now called the Challenge Set and will begin shipping around August 1st .
  • The cost for team registration ($225) and the Challenge Set ($75) will remain unchanged. The cost of the EV3 set available for purchase by teams has been reduced to $439.

Team Hardship Grants

South Carolina FIRST LEGO League & Robotics Education is now accepting nominations for Team Hardship Grants. Applications will be accepted until noon on Wednesday, July 27.

Team Hardship Grants are designed to aid teams that would otherwise not be able to participate in FIRST LEGO League without some assistance. Grants cover two of the three major expenses associated with participation in the program: registration, challenge set, and an EV3 Mindstorms robotics kit. As part of the application process teams are required to identify which two of these three items they would like support with.

Up to four teams will be nominated to FIRST for hardship support. The final approval for support will come from FIRST. If your team registers and pays the registration fee or purchases product, we are not able to provide funding through the Team Hardship Grant program.

To apply for a Team Hardship grant please fill out the online application.


Finding a FIRST LEGO League Team in Your Area

As the South Carolina partner for the FIRST LEGO League, our primary roles include scheduling and running FLL events in the state along with supporting our coaches for a successful season. We do not have the necessary resources for putting people in touch with existing teams looking for new members.

However, FIRST provides two services for finding a FIRST LEGO League team in your area. The first method is to head over to firstinspires.org and check out theirEvents and Teams in My Area search engine. You can search by FIRST programs within a specified radius from your zip code. While the results are limited, it does not provide contact information, the results do provide a stepping stone to finding out if your child’s school or organization already has a team.

FIRST also provides a service called TeamUp which is designed to connect likeminded individuals within the FIRST programs. TeamUp is a community-driven system for the US and Canada that allows users to connect with one another to form teams. It’s a great resource for finding teams looking for members or for teams to advertise that they’re looking for new recruits. You can access TeamUp here.


Mark Your Calendars

The Animal Allies season is quickly approaching. Mark your calendars with these special dates:

  • Registration for the Animal Allies is now open
  • Challenge sets will start shipping around the first of August
  • The Animal Allies challenge release is on August 30 at noon.

In South Carolina we’ve already set a few dates of our own. We have challenge game clinics set for

  • October 29, Hanahan Robot Rampage Challenge Clinic
  • October 29, Battle of the Beach Bots Challenge Clinic

Official qualifying events are scheduled for

  • November 12, Berkley Regional Qualifier
  • November 19, Colleton Regional Qualifier
  • November 19, Horry Regional Qualifier
  • December 2, York Regional Qualifier
  • December 3, Cherokee Regional Qualifier
  • December 3, Georgetown Regional Qualifier
  • December 3, ICAR Regional Qualifier
  • December 3, Tri-County Regional Qualifier
  • December 10, Aiken Regional Qualifier
  • December 10, Dorchester Regional Qualifier
  • December 10, Mauldin Regional Qualifier
  • December 10, Lexington Regional Qualifier
  • December 10, Pee Dee Regional Qualifier
  • December 17, Greenville Regional Qualifier
  • December 17, Oconee Regional Qualifier

Both of our state championships are now scheduled,

  • January 14, South Carolina West State Championship (Easley High School)
  • January 21, South Carolina East State Championship (Waccamaw High School)

Stay tune as we add more challenge game clinics and qualifiers to the calendar.

Please keep in mind that we are working on having all qualifying events in the books before the holiday break.


Offseason Robot Workout

Just because we don’t know the specifics for the Animal Allies season it doesn’t mean we can’t train our robots. This month’s Offseason Robot Workout challenges teams to train their robots to gently approach a mission model.

The Workout
Thinking back on the Trash Trek season, we saw a lot of teams attempt the composting mission. This wasn’t too surprising because teams received points simply for pushing a button. The problem came when the robot smashed into the button way too hard, causing the composter to jam. Is there a better approach (all pun intended) to this and similar missions?

The answer is yes, using the ultrasonic sensor and data wires. For this month’s Offseason Robot Workout teams are challenged with figuring out how to use the output from a ultrasonic sensor to adjust the speed at which the robot is traveling. More specifically, the challenge is to make the robot slow down in correspondence with its distance from a mission model. For a more challenging add on, figure out how to make the robot come to a stop once it’s a specified distance from the mission model.

The Goal
In completing this challenge teams will learn how to use a sensor’s output as continual input information for their motors. More importantly, teams will develop a deeper understanding of how all robots, not just EV3 Mindstorms robots, interact with their environments by using sensory data to change their actions.


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