Tuesday, 21 January 2014

C14 Lego Mindstorm Robotics Team (First Lego League)

The team are still working overtime with their Lego robot, preparing for the Nationals on 1st February. My boys spent almost 6 hours on Monday - in between biology class (ds1) and Lamda drama session (ds2) - working on the robot and the research presentation. Monday was also the team's ‘Open Day’, the second opportunity they've had to share their work with the public. Team members showed other families how the robot worked, how they programme it, and demonstrated the robot in action completing some of the challenges.

I know I'm a mum and it's my job to be proud of my boys, but I am *really* impressed with how far all the team members have come and how much they've grown in confidence. When they started, some had never programmed a Lego robot before, most had never researched and written a presentation, and few had read out anything in front of an audience before. Not to mention the experience of working really closely as a team, under pressure. It's been an amazing journey for all of them.

At the open day on Monday they spent a little while sharing their research project with the audience. [Here's the First Lego League website with details for this year's project challenge]. C14's problem was how to help people trapped in fires following an earthquake.  (They discovered when they started researching natural disasters for their project that more damage and injuries/fatalities are caused by fires following earthquakes, than the earthquake itself). Their proposal is for an autonomous rechargeable drone that maps the location and extent of fires and relays that information back to emergency services. It is also designed to be able to carry cargo (e.g. supplies for emergency teams). They've been working on acronyms for the design. I don't have high enough clearance to be given that top secret information yet! 

All this research on drones has inspired them to set their sights even higher. There have been rumours (mothers eavesdropping on teen conversations) that some team members are planning to design and work together on a flying model quad copter, once the Lego competition is finished. I don't even know what a quad copter is, but I'm seriously hoping its insides aren't going to be on *my* dining room table! 

There are also plans in the pipework for some of the team to mentor a younger group of budding Lego robotics enthusiasts later this year. There’s been a huge amount of interest from other families, stirred up by the C14 demonstrations and the publicity from their website, so I can't see they'll have a shortage of willing participants.

The team are meeting up again tomorrow (mine are working on the project from home) and again at the weekend and on Monday.  It’s going to be a long week. However well they do at the Nationals, whatever place they come among the 29 teams, they couldn’t possibly have worked any harder than they have.  

The team has been adding more to the website to get it looking its best: http://mindstormc14.weebly.com/

They also have a youtube channel, where they've posted videos of their robot in action (and a few fun videos of times where things didn't go to plan). [Insert proud mum moment...Ds2 made the computer animations at the beginning of each video. He loves his tech!]
And...if you happen to be on Facebook, I'm sure the team would love a few more 'likes' or just a comment to wish them luck for the Nationals. Search for "C14 robotics team".

Shameless plug/Proud Mum moment over :)

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