Monthly Archives: December 2013


FTC Decision

Saturday, a group of parents and I took some of the team members from the Capital Girls and Code Crackers to the FTC qualifying tournament.  FTC is very different but looks fun.

The Code Crackers want to do FTC next year but things are still up in the air as people wait to see what high school they will be attending.  With the unknowns of high school, right now it is a wait and see.

The Capital Girls want to stick with FLL.  I learned yesterday how much they love the project component.  I also think seeing the age of most of the teams, they feel more comfortable in FLL.  FTC looks fun but is also looks challenging.

FLL Starting Point Book

Now that the FLL season is over, I am looking for a project to fill up my free time.  I could finish, a free volunteer signup application for community organizations or do a FLL Starting Point Ebook while everything is fresh in my mind.  The FLL Starting Point point book would focus on the EV3 and summarize the content from the blog and resource section of the site.  It will also be like a cookbook, providing several programming examples and how to teach kids advanced programming.

I have this crazy idea of making it an eBook and selling it via Amazon with all the proceeds going to VA/DC First.

The goal of the FLL Starting Point book will be to help rookie teams have a good experience and empower all teams to do advanced navigation using the EDGE method and badge rewards system.  Below is the current outline.  Please provide feedback, I don’t want to spend this time unless teams and FIRST will benefit.  I have most of the content, just need to structure it and clean it up.  I also need experienced coaches to review  and provide feedback.  If you are interested, let me know.

1. Team Management

  • Team Structure
  • Team Roles
  • Sub Teams
  • Getting parents involved

2. Coaching Techniques

  • Edge Method
  • Badges
  • Confidence Circle

3. Season Management

  • Timeline
  • Scheduling Meetings

4. Summer Workshops/Challenges

  • Base Robot
  • Straight Test
  • Sumo
  • Mr. T Challenge
  • Master DJ

5. Project

  • Identifying a problem
  • Research
  • Solution
  • Presentation
  • Project Workbook
  • Sample Questions

6. Core Values

  • Team Rules
  • Practice Activities
  • Core Values Poster
  • Core Values Workbook
  • Sample Questions

7. Robot Design

  • Robot Types
  • Wheels
  • Axle support
  • Bumpers
  • Sensors
  • Robot Test
  • Robot Design Workbook
  • Robot Design Start Point Poster

8. Robot Game Strategy

  • Run Time versus Pit Time
  • Attachments versus Built-on
  • Runs

9. Attachments

  • Starting Point Attachment Poster

10. Basic Action Programming

  • Going straight
  • Turning
  • Programming Workbook

10. Advanced Programming

  • Sensors
  • Flow (Loop, Wait, Switch, Logic Blocks)
  • Starting Point Program Flow Poster

11. Consistent Navigation Techniques (Sample Programs)

  • Base Escape
  • Going Straight with the Gyro
  • Turning with the Gyro
  • Line Detection
  • Line Following
  • Line Squaring
  • Wall Squaring
  • Wall Following
  • Wall Detection
  • Object Squaring
  • Object Detection
  • Starting Point Posters

12. Robot Game Starting

  • Starting Teams
  • Starting Team Practices
  • Master Program
  • Starting Table

13. Robot Design Judging
14. Tournament Prep
15. Troubleshooting



With the Code Crackers aging out of FLL and the Capital Girls having a great FLL seasons, we are debating FLL or FTC next year.  I don’t think the Code Crackers will continue, many of them will be in high schools with FRC programs.

This weekend, I and some of the team members will attend the Haymarket VA FTC Qualifying tournament to experience FTC.

If you have transitioned from FLL to FTC, I would love to hear your perspective.  We could continue with FLL for two more years but like FTC because it is a new challenge.



What a weekend!

A special thanks to all the organizers and volunteers at the VA/DC Championship tournament. As always, it was a great, well run event.

The Capital Girls won Project Innovation for their Snitch concept, a nano sized search and rescue robot. Their robot performance was great but not good enough. I think they finished 5th or 6th. I don’t even know their score.

The Code Crackers had a 423 practice round, which was the highest Division II Score, but were not able to achieve that score in the competition rounds. They did not receiving any awards but had a great season, which is what is important. They achieved their goal of going to the championship.

It was a rewarding and sad for me. I started coaching the Code Crackers 4 years ago and knowing their last run was their last run forever choked me up. The Code Crackers age out this year and that was sad for all of us. FLL has been so fun and rewarding for this team. They may not be able to compete next year but I bet you will see them volunteering at tournaments and as mentors. They love FLL.

It was a great season. We are debating what we to do next year, do we continue, do we do FLL or FTC. Over the next few months, I will be updating the Starting Point Posters and badge system to reflect the EV3. I also will be creating some new Starting Points.

Congratulations to the Positive Aftermath. I judged this team for technical at their regional tournament and know they will represent VA/DC very well. Good luck at Worlds and thanks for embracing the FLL Core Values.