Some previous team buttons.
What is FIRST / FLL?
FIRST stands for "For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology." It was founded by Dean Kamen (inventor of the Segway) in 1989 with the mission of inspiring young people to be science and technology leaders. FIRST Robotic Competition (FRC) teams compete at the high school level.
You can learn more about FIRST here.
FLL stands for "FIRST Lego League." It is a partnership between FIRST and Lego and is open to kids age 9 to 14. The team goes through a fast-paced season from late August through regional competitions in December. During that time the challenge is released and the kids need to come up with a robot design using a Lego NTX (or EV3) "Brick" as a brain and various lego parts to solve the game missions. There is also a project portion that involves researching problems and existing solutions to the challenge theme and coming up with an innovative solution that improves an existing solution or is a unique, new solution.
Two important concepts of FLL are "Gracious Professionalism" and "Coopertition". Gracious Professionalism is about everyone improves each other while competing. Coopertition is about cooperating with others while competing with them. The topics are addressed in detail here.
The FLL teams meet with experts in the area of the challenge and spread the information learned to groups that can benefit. Some teams invent solutions that help specific people.
The 2013 team: Quake Snakes
What is Boise FIRST Lego League?
The Boise FIRST Lego League website was started by Coaches Mike Lydon and Lee Coulson to help spread the word about FLL in the Boise area. Coach Coulson has been mentoring FRC and coaching FLL teams since 2006, helping hundreds of kids learn more about robotics. He started an FLL team after his 7th grade daughter expressed interests in robotics at an FRC competition. Their first FLL team, The Super Smarties, consisted of nine girls who won the Idaho State Competition and competed in the World Championships in Atlanta, wining 2nd place for Teamwork.
The Impossibles - World Class
After trying out several robot solutions the team settled on a solution that was simple yet elegant. It only had a few attachments which allows it to spend a longer time out on the game mat scoring points. The downside is that if there is a problem then there is a bigger chance to lose items that were collected! The kids really had fun with the soccer ball mission as well as coming up with the simplest strategy for each mission. One team member learned how to do data logging to help measure the accuracy of the gyroscope in being able to travel in a straight line.
This year for the project teams answered the question: "How could we improve the way that someone learns _____? The Impossible's chose "History" as their topic came up with an innovative idea to use Virtual Reality as a way to teach history. Using VR the student enters a three-dimensional environment where they can interact with historical characters and an artificial intelligence answers student questions and makes sure the curriculum is covered. The student now can learn in the best way possible - using a combination of auditory, visual and kinesthetic learning to get an enriched learning experience. The student can interact with the lesson with virtual reality, too. What is really cool is that this technology can be used for any subject in school where learning is mostly from books.
The team's best run of the season happened at the Treasure Valley #2 qualifier.
Quake Snakes - Nature's Fury
The Quake Snakes took an almost scientific approach to designing their robot. First, they voted to use the new EV3 robot for this competition, even though it was a brand new "brain". Some parts were on back order but showed up in time for the regional competition. They also spent some time determining which wheels were best for the different missions. There was a need for moving fast across the game mat, but also being able to climb over obstacles. They ended up with a middle size, wide wheel for the mat so it would have more friction than a narrow wheel to reduce slippage, and it would be big enough to move fast but not too big to stall at slow speeds. Finally, they tried different body sizes to see what could move around the game board but also not be too tall because of the airplane "zip line". They also came up with a unique attachment, "The Hulk" that had its own motor and treads to get over the obstacles.
The Quake Snakes' project was a robotic snake that could be used to go through rubble after an earthquake, squeezing through small areas and using sensors to find people. It uses a video camera with heat sensors for navigation and the controller uses a cell phone signal to communicate. The snake uses biomimicry by using treads instead of scales to move with rectilinear, or straight, movement.
The team's best run of the season, and incidentally, the best robot performance run of the North American Open.
Extreme Elders - Senior Solutions
The Elders took a strategic approach to have a different set of attachments for different sets of missions. They also used the new pneumatic Lego part and a tag-team approach to running the robot in competition.
The Elders' project was a website design that helped seniors stay fit. There were sections for mental games, physical exercises, nutrition, music, and travel. The travel section showed video clips so the seniors can see and experience new things without leaving their home. The travel section was accessed with points earned by completing requirements in the other sections.
Fruit Kabots - Food Factor
This year's team came up with some innovative solutions to a whole new set of missions. A lot of new team members learned all about designing and programming robots.
The Fruit Kabots' project addressed food safety with a "refrigerated bowl" to help keep fruit fresh longer.
The Nerds - Body Forward
The team returned in 2010 with the Body Forward competition. A new set of missions and a new robot. Challenge accepted! The team did well enough to compete in the Southern California Invitational at Legoland.
After meeting with a couple experts on biomedical engineering to discuss problems facing the human body. The Nerds came up with a project addressing siting with good posture. After meeting with a physical therapist the Nerds designed a "People's Perfect Posturefier" that used an NXT robot brain and a sculptured foam pad to help give feedback to the person using it if they had incorrect posture.
The team created a video summarizing their experiences and promoting FLL
Super Smarties - Smart Move
The Super Smarties surprised many people with their robot and project. The robot was a robust solution that solved many of the missions. However the robot performed very poorly during the regional qualifying competition. In a supreme example of Gracious Professionalism and Coopertition another FLL team showed the Super Smarties how to calibrate their light sensors. Calibrating the sensors is important because it allows the robot to know the sensor values for true black and true white, based on the available light - an important concept when the robot is running in a new environment (e.g. a competition instead of at home). The Super Smarties went on to win the regional competition. With some more programming they also won the Idaho State Competition and were able to travel to the World Festival in Atlanta Georgia. A big thanks to all who helped get them there!
The Super Smarties' project was about converting garbage into gasoline.
Here is how Boise FLL helps
Boisefll exhibit their robots at many area events such as Boise State University's STEM/Engineering Day.
- Creating awareness of FLL and robotics
- Inspire new teams
- Show what sort of problems can be solved with robots
What can you do?
Boise FLL is looking for help with purchases of robotic parts and equipment to help program them. With a team size at the maximum of 10 having more programming stations allows for more team members to learn about robotics.
You can help out by purchasing our fundraiser item, a FIRSTGreen CREE LED light bulb. Or you can donate directly.
If you would like to offer a tax-deductible donation, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org directly.
800 lumen bulb to replace a 60w incandescent