Monthly Archives: December 2014


Embracing failure as a learning experience

Failure for academically driven youth is a challenge, it scares them to the point they will not try something.  For a team to be successful, you have to train youth to embrace failure as a learning experience.  Part of mastering FLL is learning through experimentation.  You will find your best builders, robot or core values, will be the youth that just jump in a try something.  The Edison slide above is how I coach failure is learning.  I show this as part of the season kick-off and use Edison’s famous quote, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Whenever I notice a youth is scared to try something, I just ask “How many times did Edison fail when creating the light bulb?  For some reason, this story and concept resonates with youth.


2014 VA-DC FLL Championship Tournament

A special thanks goes out to all the VA-DC FLL Volunteers, it was a phenomenal season and it would not have been possible without the many volunteers.

Congratulations to the Capital Teens, my all girls team, for having fun all weekend, even when the robot did not perform up to its potential.  The Capital Teens were awarded Division II Second Place Champion.  In their words, the “so close” award.

Next Year

When I started this season, it was going to be my last year as a coach.  I wanted to move on to some new challenges.    That changed last week.  The Capital Teens will be back for our fourth and final year.

For those who do not know our team, you might think it is to try for Champion.  That would be nice but that is not our reason.   My team loves FLL and I love FLL.  They love sharing and mentoring other teams.  For this reason, we will be back.   They have a passion for FLL that gives me the energy for one more year. Now I just have to figure out how to tell my wife.


FLL EV3 Wall Squaring

Wall Squaring – simple but effective for improving consistency.  Wall squaring is the strategy of using a wall to square the robot.  Depending on your robot design, you can square in the back or the front.

wallsquareMy team designed their robot with wall squaring  and following in mind.  Their robot has 4 wall wheels and both a back and front bumper.

At our team meeting, we counted the number of wall squares,  They wall square 7 times and do one wall following.

We also use wall squaring as checkpoints, putting tape on the wall where the robot is expected to square.  This year was our first time doing this and we loved it.  It offered two advantages, you can tell when the robot is off.  It is also provides a starting point, meaning you can position the robot at that spot and do not have to run an entire program.  When programming missions, this saves times and battery.

You can also square on the lines.  My team did 4 line squares this year and it works great.  I will cover this topic in a future post.