(Okay, so the title was lame. But a great attention grabber, no?)
This weekend at my high school our FIRST Robotics Team will be hosting a tournament for local middle schoolers (grades 5-8, ages 10-14) and their LEGO robot creations. FIRST is a competition for high school students who build large, complex, and wonderful robots out of metal, wood, and plastic; FLL (FIRST LEGO League) is a competition for younger students who build small, complex, and wonderful robots out of LEGO bricks. Aside from the size of the students and the building materials, the thrill is the same.
Each September, thousands of teams from across the US and around the world take part in this neat adventure. FLL announces what the challenge of the day is, and the teams have about 6 weeks to build LEGO-based robots (using the LEGO MindStorms controller) to tackle the challenge. The field of play is a 4’x8′ plywood arena, boardered by 2×4 walls, and contained within are a wide variety of "missions" for the robots.
This year’s game is Ocean Odyssey, and promises to be one of the best yet. The missions include launching a research submarine, servicing an undersea pipeline, releasing a dolphin, cleaning up a cargo spill, tagging a specific fish (based only on it’s color!), conduct a mapping operation, and others, all within a 2-1/2 minute timeframe!!
We’ve got teams from 13 area schools coming tomorrow. The day starts at 7:00am (for me anyway, as the moderator), and won’t wind down until dinner time. Should be a blast.