Sunday, January 15, 2017

2016 - 2017 FTC Albany Qualifier

Our teams, Bat Bots FTC 6966 and BondBots FTC 8527, competed at the Albany Qualifier on January 14th. Both teams had some difficulties today, but everyone had a great time.      
Bat Bots Queued for Judging

BondBots Ready to Get the Day Started
Bat Bots had some mechanical issues they were not able to completely fix during the day. BondBots had some trouble with their autonomous programming. They were able to press both beacons during autonomous at our practice field, but were not successful at the tournament. They were able to quickly add a program that could knock the cap ball off the center structure and park partially on the center structure, to work cooperatively with a partner that had been able to get the beacons.

The Bat Bots showed off their new costumes and met up with friends they made during last year's competitions.
Bat Bots in Costume

We were able to complete another "first" for our program at this tournament. Due to the alliance partners selected by the top three teams, BondBots was able to slide into the position of being the 4th Alliance Captain for the semi-finals. While Zack, the team representative at alliance selections, did not show any change in emotion, he did get a bit pale. The team had prepared their list of potential alliance partners "just in case", so he was prepared to make a selection.
All the Teams at Alliance Selections

Zack Making His Second Selection

We all got the chance to network with other teams and coaches, including two additional teams from our area. Adirondack P-Tech FTC 12266, from Peru, was competing in their very first FTC tournament and Team Beta FTC 8397, from West Chazy, was also there. We got to meet a lot of new friendly faces as well.
Bat Bots With Old Friends

The North Country Represented
Bat Bots FTC 6966, BondBots FTC 8527,
Team Beta FTC 8397, and ADK P-Tech FTC 12266

At the end of the day, BondBots won the Connect Award. We are looking forward to the Regional Championships in February.

A few more photos from the day.
BondBots Pit Area



BondBots talking to the Judges

Bat Bots Competing

Bat Bots Competing

BondBots Ready to Compete

2016-2017 FTC Red Hook Qualifier

Both of our FTC teams, Bat Bots FTC 6966 and BondBots FTC 8527, competed in the Red Hook Qualifier on December 11th.
The day begins with pit set up and check-in. Judging times are assigned and the teams make last minute repairs or head to the practice field.

The atmosphere on competition day is part chaos, part excitement, and a whole lot of nervous energy. This is the first competition for our new team members, so they have a lot to learn about competition day.

Bat Bots headed into judging first. They reported that it went well and they were able to answer the questions they were asked. BondBots headed into judging next. Overall it went well, but they came out with lots of ideas for improvement.

Next up, the teams headed to robot inspection. They both passed without difficulty, but did receive a bit of advice from the inspector. Whew!

Bat Bots had a few team members unable to attend, so they had to work with that limitation, but they handle it just fine.

 After a bit of dancing, yup - the YMCA before 8 am! - a few BondBots team members headed to the practice field, a couple stayed at the booth to greet other teams and spectators, and the rest headed out to start scouting.

After the Driver's Meeting and Opening Ceremonies, the qualifying matches began. Once the matches start, the day just flies by. Both teams competed well, with a few setbacks. Bat Bots had connectivity issues and BondBots struggled with the autonomous. The robot was able to navigate to the beacons in some matches, but weren't able to press the beacon button. There were not many teams attempting the beacons during autonomous, so that made the BondBots stand out a bit.

Both teams were able to quickly identify and correct problems that came up during the day. An important component to a successful competition day. While neither team was selected as an alliance partner, both teams ended the day with awards.

Bat Bots won the Think Award, and also placed 3rd for both the Rockwell Collins Innovate Award and the Connect Award.

BondBots won the 3rd Place Inspire Award, earning them advancement to the Regional Championship at Pace University in February. This was the first time one of our FTC teams received an Inspire Award or advanced to the Regional Championship, so it was very exciting for us. There may have been a few happy tears, but we won't say from who. BondBots also won the Motivate Award and placed 3rd for both the PTC Design Award and the Think Award.

The teams are always seeking ways to improve and ended the day with plans to make their robots and presentations better before the Albany qualifier in January. Another fun, exciting, and exhausting competition day is done. All that is left is the long drive home in the snow. See you in Albany.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Summer Fun

For two weeks this summer the robotics center was full of activity. Our FTC team members helped run the Summer Robotics Program, offering week long robotics activities.

The participants in Radical Robotics built and programmed robots using Lego Mindstorm NXTs and EV3s. They needed to program their robots to autonomously complete missions. At the end of the week they all got to show off their work to friends and family.
Learning the Basics

Working on the Missions

Learning to Program

Showing Friends and Family Their Results

The participants in the Advanced Robotics program built VEX robots to complete a challenge. They had to learn how to build and wire their robots.

During Science Week, participants designed, built, and tested popsicle stick bridges, built water bottle rockets, and made foosball games by customizing their own 3D printed foosball men.
Watching the 3D Printer at Work

Bridge Building

A Foosball Game with Custom 3D Printed Foosball Men

Lego Play participants had a blast building Lego models based on different themes throughout the week. It's lots of fun making new friends and playing with a large assortment of Lego bricks.
Creative Minds at Work

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Champlain Valley Robot Expo

CVTM Robotics teams hosted the first Champlain Valley Robot Expo at Champlain Centre on April 3rd. FTC teams 6966 and 8527 brought their robots, and invited FTC teams 8397 and 8526 to do the same. The four teams were able to show mall patrons how the FTC program works with all four robots on the field at the same time, just like at competition.

FLL team members from teams 2211, 2212, and 2213 were also on hand to talk about the FIRST Lego League program and the robots the teams built for last season’s Trash Trek challenge.

Justin Collins, from MakerSupplyZone and SUNY Plattsburgh’s Physics Club, was in attendance with 3D printers, making plastic robots for attendees.

There were robots to drive and robot crafts for kids. The teams were able to talk to reporters from the Press Republican and WPTZ News.

We hope to see you at some of our other upcoming events. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

A Long Season, A New Region

At Red Hook
Our two FIRST Tech Challenge teams competed in a new region this year. Our first year in the Hudson Valley Region was long, but good. In the past, our teams competed in a region with just one tournament. The format in our new region is a bit different, with qualifying tournaments ahead of the regional championship. What does that mean for our teams? More competitions and more travel.

Bond Bots FTC 8527

The first competition our teams were in was the Central Qualifier, held in Red Hook, December 20th. While both teams struggled with connectivity issues, at the end of the day both teams won awards. Bat Bots FTC 6966 won the Motivate Award, and Bond Bots FTC 8527 won the Connect Award. Bond Bots were chosen as an alliance partner for semi-finals as well. Both teams enjoyed meeting new teams and came home with new ideas to try.

Bat Bots FTC 6966

On January 16th, the teams competed in the Capital Qualifier, in Albany. Both teams showed improvement over the first competition. Bat Bots were selected as alliance partner for semi-finals and won the Judges Award. They impressed the judges with their willingness to help another team that was struggling to pass inspection. Since neither team qualified for the Hudson Valley Championship, our season was complete in our new region.

The teams did have one additional chance to compete when we were able to secure spots at the Vermont Championship held at the University of Vermont in Burlington on February 27th. Bat Bots ran short on time to get their design modifications completed prior to the tournament, so this wasn’t their best showing of the season, but they had a great day as a team. Bond Bots were able to hang their robot in their second match. Unfortunately connectivity issues in the next three matches left them a bit disappointed at the end of the day. Both teams got to meet more teams and had a great experience at this event.

Finally hanging!
At the beginning of the season our goals were to win an award and to be selected as alliance partner. Both teams were able to do that. The teams learned so much. There were many ups and downs this season, but the improvement both teams had over last year are something to be proud of. These kids work hard, often for six hours or more at a time. They are here because they want to learn. The robotics program needs team members with different interests. Some want to build robots, others want to program them. Others contribute in other ways. Some manage the team’s social media, others help with fundraising and making the business plan. They all are learning that they can accomplish more by working together, pitching in to help wherever they can. They have a lot of work to do, but still can find ways to have fun along the way.

As we say goodbye to one season and begin the off-season work to prepare for the next, we say thank you to all the team members for their efforts and a huge thank you to all our program mentors and parents. Every single one of you is an important part of this program.

We can’t wait to see what the teams can do next year. Stay tuned…

Sunday, December 13, 2015

FLL Championship Tournament at Clarkson University

What a great day at the FLL Championship Tournament at Clarkson University. Our three FLL teams had a very busy, very long day competing with an additional twenty four teams.

The teams arrived at 8:30 a.m. excited and nervous. The day started with judging sessions. First up was Robot Design Judging. The teams had to explain how they designed and programmed their robots. They also had to discuss their strategy for the Robot Game.

Next up was Project Judging. This year's FLL theme is Trash Trek. Each team had to choose a trash item, identify the problems caused by that trash item, and solve one of those problems. Radical Robotics designed a lidless soda cup to reduce the amount of trash produced by fast food restaurants. Remarkable Robotics designed a robotic device that would pick up cigarette butts and other small debris from sidewalks and paths. Radio Robotics decided to turn books into insulation for secondary structures. Three very different trash items, with three very different solutions.

The final judging session was for Core Values. The core values are the foundation of the FLL program. The teams needed to demonstrate to the judges that they could work as a team to solve a challenge. They also needed to share their experiences from this season. Things like how they used the core values in other areas of their lives, like school and sports teams. They shared how they worked cooperatively with other teams and how they overcame obstacles they faced during the season.

After a quick lunch break, it was time for Opening Ceremonies. Then it was time for our favorite part of the day, the Robot Rounds. The afternoon is filled with fast-paced, anxiety-filled robot action. Each team gets to compete in three robot rounds. Their best run of the three is the one that counts at the end of the day. There were some tense moments when things didn't go as planned, but the teams recovered quickly and kept moving forward.

Once robot rounds were complete, we quickly cleaned up our pit areas and headed to Closing Ceremonies. It's so much fun to watch all the competitors receive their awards. We are happy to say that one of our teams was among the winners. Radical Robotics won the Champion's Award 2nd Place. They were the runner up for the overall championship today. That does not diminish the accomplishments of our other two teams. Winning isn't the goal. All our team members are winners. They worked hard, solved problems, and were strong competitors. They are learning to be innovators and to work in a diverse group of people. We are so proud of them all.

We are grateful for the event coordinators, judges, referees, and volunteers. Their efforts gave our kids a great experience. Thank you!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

In the news: 3D Printathalon

This year some of our kids from our two FTC teams teamed up and went to the first ever Capital District 3D Printathalon, a 24-hour competition where contestants had to design and 3D print a working object. Two of our kids were recently interviewed by the Press Republican, check out the resulting article:Press Republican-local-students-impress-in--3d-printathalon.