Hamilton High Robotics Club rocked Gangplank Jr

robotics Hamilton High Robotics Club rocked Gangplank JrThe Hamilton High School Robotics Club came to hang out with us October’s Gangplank Jr event and worked with the kids to build some sweet robots as well as showcase their own projects.

They brought in a robot created at last year’s First Robotics Competition (FRC) that could shoot a basketball across the street. Almost 30 kids hung out with us on Saturday and (if the smiles were any indication) had a blast!

Our next event will be on Nov. 17 from 1p.m. – 2:30p.m. doing a videography lesson. Come join us and have some fun!

Lego League Reflections: This Year vs Last Year

Ryan Dinnan and Tanner Saadi take some time to reflect on changes in First Lego League from last year.  They analyzed the good and bad of how things have changed.  Including, bot design, board layout, challenges, overall topic, the team and much more.

Tanner’s Thoughts

The bot design is much better this year.  We can attachments in more ways and much easier than last year.  The board this year is harder because there are more things on it than last year.  The challenges are harder this year because it feels impossible to get 100% this year.  The topic this year is better because it is something you never thought was a problem.  The team this year is better because we argue a lot less.

Ryan’s Thoughts

This year Lego League has been awesome.  There are less people so now everyone is involved.  Unlike last year when some people were sitting in the cornering watching instead.  This year the board has more challenges so is more exciting.  The challenges are difficult and easy.  The topic is also better because it has a variety of things that can be chosen from it.  The bot design is also better for adding attachments and easier to line up.  In conclusion, I think this year is better than last year.

Legos, Guitars and Handlebars

legos 15 300x223 Legos, Guitars and HandlebarsCome join us this weekend at Mesa Arts Center’s Guitars and Handlebars Season Kickoff Festival. Along with all of the great activities and live music, Gangplank Jr and Building Bonanza will be there hosting Lego events from 10am-4pm on Saturday and 10am-2pm on Sunday.

If you are already a part of the Gangplank Jr First Lego League, we will be unveiling this season’s mat and challenges.  From 10am-12pm on Saturday, we will assemble the boards for this year and discuss the various tactics we can use to achieve the missions. There will also be a Sumo bot challenge (2-4pm), a large master building session with Building Bonanza and a free robotics build to handle various challenges (12-2pm).

Sunday will start off with First Lego League information for this year’s challenges and a chasis build competition, followed by another master build session from the guys at Building Bonanza.

As if all of that wasn’t enough to excite you, a full size replica of a Harley Davidson will be built from Legos by certified Lego artist Nathan Sawaya over the course of the two days.  Don’t miss out on the family fun at this great event.

lego motorcycles Legos, Guitars and Handlebars

Great Book For Anyone Involved in First Lego League

I just finished reading Winning Design Lego Mindstorms NXT Design Patterns for Fun and Competition.  I know quite a mouthful for a book on Legos, but I must say for anyone looking to get involved or already involved with Lego Mindstorms or First Lego League this book is gold.

We run several teams at Gangplank and are in our second year.  The author’s experiences and tips are wonderful.  Even some of the simpler things that would seem obvious are mistakes we have made in our first year and when I read them I thought, “Well, duh, why didn’t I think of that?”.  The reason is simple inexperience.  As basic as Legos are, the First Lego League can really make you have to do some complex things with those Legos and that can lead to missing many of the items pointed out in the book.  Also, the time to really get your bot and presentation goes by extremely fast.  I am looking forward to implementing some of the techniques in this book this year to help optimize that short time we have to get ready.

At our next meeting in June, I am going to recommend to all of our parents and kids that they pick up a copy of the book and read it and for our mentor’s this will become required reading.

 

10044030 Great Book For Anyone Involved in First Lego LeagueWinning Design LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT Design Patterns for Fun and Competition by James Jeffrey Trobaugh

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

AVNet Tech Games at UAT

Gangplank Jr will be on hand at the AVNet Tech Games at the University of Advancing Technology (UAT) on April 9th.

The Avnet Tech Games (ATG) is an annual college technology competition that provides students with an opportunity to apply what they learn in school to real-world scenarios and compete for scholarships.

We will be there to demonstrate that you don’t need to wait until college to get involved with technology and robots.  First Lego League Alumni will be on hand to demonstrate their bots, build new ones and share why they enjoy Gangplank Jr events.  Gangplankers will also get to see first hand some of the competitions they will be able to compete in as they move past the First Lego League.

Come by and say hi and build a bot.

P.S. we still have room for more Gangplank Jr kids to spend time at the booth exploring the Mindstorms kit.  This would be a great opportunity to get back into the swing of things after the break from FLL.

Gangplank Jr Invades Desert Code Camp 2011.1 (Mindstorms, Scratch, Small Basic, Kodu & Electronics)

On April 2nd from 8am – 5pm at Chandler/Gilbert Community College will be Desert Code Camp 2011.1.  This is the third Desert Code Camp that Gangplank Jr will have a track.  In fact, this time there will be 2 Gangplank Jr tracks.  That’s right with the help of Lynn Langit, Roy Van De Water, Michael Christenson II, and Adam Mokan we will have our biggest showing yet.

There are 3 sessions for Lego Mindstorms, 2 Scratch sessions, an electronics session and several SmallBasic and Kodu Workshops.  With this many options any technical minded child should be able to find something to peak their interest.  Check out the track details on the Desert Code Camp Site.

Looking forward to seeing you all there for a great day of programming, bot building and collaboration.

Legos + Computers = Robots

With a great First Lego League season behind us, it is time again to shake off the dust, replace the batteries and start creating amazing Lego Robots.  That’s right, Gangplank Jr’s Lego Program is starting back up.

If you are can operate a computer, snap Legos together and like to have fun, come out for our Introduction to Mindstorms event on March 6th from 1:00-3:00pm at Gangplank.  We will be covering everything from the the physical sensors to the system used to program the robots.  In Gangplank Jr fashion this is a hands on event, meaning you will have built a working robot by the end of the day.

Look forward to seeing all of you, veterans and new comers alike.

Living Billboard

At our last Gangplank meeting we discussed fund raising options for the Gangplank Jr 2011 Events.  One of the suggestions was for me to auction off a tattoo.  Seemed like a great idea to me, so last night I went and had a billboard outlined on my forearm and today am opening the auction.  The rules are simple.  Highest bidder gets to choose whatever they want to fill the billboard.

All of the money is going to Gangplank Jr to support our events through the year.  It is a great cause and I urge each and everyone of you to place a bid.

Mike

[wpauction id="1" /]

Poker Tournament

Help send our two First LEGO League teams to the state-wide competition this fall by participating in our Texas Hold ‘em Poker Tournament on Thursday, September 16th at 6:30pm. A $40 donation will provide you with the chips to play. Prizes will be awarded for first, second and third place.

Your donations will go towards covering registration and build kit fees, as well as purchasing shirts for the team members.

Seats are limited. RSVP to reserve your spot.