Countdown on Hold…

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Due to a facilities problem, our regional championship was canceled at the last minute. We want to thank FIRST and all the volunteers who had already spent countless hours planning and setting everything up for the tournament before the cancellation needed to occur.

We were of course very saddened to hear the news of the tournament being postponed. We sincerely hope that the championship will be able to be successfully rescheduled this year, so that all the teams will have an opportunity to share all that they have learned, accomplished, and worked so hard on this year.

Please excuse us from our regular blog post entries as we continue to prepare for our regional championship.

We know many FLL regions have already had their championships, but we want to wish good luck to teams who haven’t yet finished their competitions! Also, we want to wish good luck to all teams who have already moved on to preparing for a World Festival or another invitational!

LEGO Fidget Spinners

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Today we are going to talk about having fun with your Technic and EV3 pieces. For our FLL team, part of sitting around and building robots and attachments involves build “doodling.” We are not doodling on paper. We are “doodling” with the LEGO pieces themselves! We are building little structures as we mess with the pieces, learning how they work and coming up with new ideas. One of our recent ideas was to make LEGO Technic fidget spinners!

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EV3 Programming: Switch Blocks Part 1

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Switch blocks in EV3 programming specify what you want the programming to do for two or more different conditions: “if EV3 detects this do this or if EV3 detects that do something else”. In other kinds of programming, you will often see this called “If…then…else” with maybe even “else…if.” In this article we will show you the many different options the EV3 software gives you.

Since the switch block has so many different options we decided to split talking about switch blocks into 2 articles. This one will be about every option besides the sensor options. We are currently working on an article about the different sensor options.

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FLL: Remember the 12” Ceiling in Base

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We attended our qualifier competition last week! We had a great time and made a lot of good friends. We want to pass on an experience some teams faced there. Some teams forgot the 12 inch ceiling in base during launch and had to quickly redesign their robot/attachments. We were sad for them that they could not run all of the mission runs they had planned, but we were very impressed with their determination and quick-thinking in getting their robots under the 12 inch ceiling, so that the refs could allow them to launch from base.

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EV3 Programming: Motor Blocks

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We have had a lot of fun using our EV3 bricks for a lot of things, such as programming them to play our favorite songs and accomplishing fun tasks we make on our own, but by far the most fun part of EV3 comes when you add motors into the mix! Motors allow you to build a robot that can drive around or build a machine with moving arms or rotating turn tables. Motors are obviously especially important in EV3 for competing in FIRST LEGO League (FLL). How else can you move around the field and accomplish all those cool missions?

In this article, we will teach you about the parameters on a motor block, different types of motor blocks, and the basic types of turns.

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Remember to Have Fun with Your EV3!

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One of the FLL core values is about having fun and enjoying what we do. Sometimes it is easy to get caught up in using LEGO EV3 for FIRST LEGO League, to learn about simple and complex machines, or for other schoolwork. FIRST encourages us to have fun while we do our work. But, it is good to remember to make sure you take some time to have a break and to just have fun, too! When you have time, you should make up your own missions and challenges! By making your own challenges you can learn, have fun, and take a break from all the stressing work of robotics.

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Crabs, Couches, and Armchairs: Building Pieces for Extra Support

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When you are building with LEGO Technic, sometimes you need extra supporting pieces on beams to keep your model from falling apart when you handle it. This is especially important for LEGO robots used for competition. We thought up some ways over the past three years to help with this problem. We will share some of those in this blog post.

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The Extra Beam!

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LEGO is pretty generous. In all of their sets, they have some extra pieces that are left over after following building instructions, but LEGO only gives you very small extra pieces, like studs, connectors, half bushes, etc. LEGO almost never gives you large extra pieces. If you have a large piece left over after building a set, check through the instructions again to see if you missed putting that piece in the model as part of the steps. In recent LEGO sets, each step has an inventory listed for the step. To avoid leaving pieces out while we build, we like to find the pieces for each step and make sure we use them all before moving on. When we have a large piece like a full brick or beam left over, we scan the inventory listed for each step to look for the type/color of piece we have left over. Usually, we find the step we overlooked that piece. It has happened to us many times in different LEGO sets we build.

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