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Programmingexamples for every challenge in FLL 2018?

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  • #16
    Originally posted by Dean Hystad View Post

    Now julnil has heard for a design judge with 19 years of experience who has coached or mentored dozens of teams that running the same mission over and over without changing anything teaches you very little and that it is better to make the robot adapt to variation than it is to try to control variation. I even tossed in my philosophy of starting to develop missions out by the mission model and working backward toward base. I've seen teams in their 4th season of FLL that don't know those lessons. I think that kind of thing is useful.
    Any professional concert pianist can point out how virtually **everything** a beginning student is doing is wrong. But it's not terribly helpful for them to do that.

    In this case, I agree with everything you said in the paragraph about "testing." In fact, one of our best moments from the Into Orbit season involved exactly the same example you used. The kids were trying to run the extraction mission, and their solution was to create a rectangular 'box' that was about the same shape as the extraction model, except it was about a quarter inch larger on each side than the model. They'd try to drop the inverted box over the extraction core samples, then back up the robot to both pull the discs off the axle for 16 points and then return them to base for the bonus 10 points, plus the blue disc to drop on the food production mission for another 8. Because it was 34 points (they never got to the 3d printer), they put in a lot of effort. But because the box fit so tightly around the extraction model, it would often fail because the robot just didn't have the precision to get within a quarter inch of the right spot. Finally, one kid says, "Why don't we make the box wider?" A different kid actually grabbed the technics pieces to make it wider. They didn't even change the program, but I don't think it ever missed after then, and they scored it all 4 matches during the tournament.

    Perfect example of what you're talking about, right? With the wider box, the starting point of the robot doesn't matter too much. The kids could pretty much eyeball the starting point and still get it done. And making the box wider was a pretty obvious solution (in hindsight, of course). However, it was no accident that the kid who thought of the idea was in his 4th year -- 2 years of FLL Jr., 2 years of FLL. That same kid has made a bunch of mistakes over 4 years and has tried a bunch of sub-optimal strategies over 4 years. But he has learned. Me (or anybody else) telling him in year 1 or 2 or 3 that he was doing a bunch of sub-optimal things wouldn't have been very helpful.
    Last edited by; 12-27-2018, 11:02 PM.


    • #17
      Anyway, for julnil, my advice for you and your team on how to learn from your first FLL season where your team "was really unprepared, since the teachers did not know much about this either":
      • Make the EV3 robot using the exact design that comes with the kit. This one:

      • Then, take all the models off your Into Orbit board so all you have is the plastic mat.
      • Create some extremely simple programs using only move tank blocks and spend a while getting a sense for how the robot moves around.
      • Take some of those move tank blocks and put them in a loop to get a sense for the limitations of how the robot moves. For example, have it go straight a few feet, then pause for a second, then back it up the same distance, then pause for a second. Loop that ten times and see how close or how far it gets to returning to the same spot. Or, similarly, have it turn what you think is a 90 degree turn. Loop it 20 times to just turn 90 degrees, pause for a second, and see how close or how far it gets to returning to the same heading.
      • Get some experience moving the robot around the table and see if you can consistently move it from the same spot in base to the same spot out on the board.
      • Once you've got a good feel for how the robot behaves, put the models back in place and try some of the missions closest to base. This year, space travel, solar panel, & tube module were pretty much straight shots from base. But they'd also benefit from some "attachment" design to create a robot arm that would accomplish them more easily.
      After you've got a few "wins" where you can feel the satisfaction of completing missions without really knowing much about what you're doing, then you might feel the temptation to try all the missions this way. (After all, it's not too hard to find Mr. Hino's youtube video where he accomplishes all the Into Orbit missions using pretty much this approach.) But this is where your real opportunity for learning comes in. At this point, I'd do three things:
      • Discuss why you were able to accomplish those missions with a very simple robot design, very simple attachment design, and very simple programming. Break it down step by step -- where the robot is, where it's going, how it gets there, how the robot interacts with the model, what problems it might encounter, etc. etc. etc.
      • Learn how to use some sensors.
      • Completely dismantle the robot and redesign it from scratch.
      Then tackle some more missions, trying to learn as much as you can about what works and what doesn't, and most importantly, **why** it didn't work and how the kids might improve.
      Last edited by; 12-27-2018, 09:51 PM.


      • #18
        Originally posted by julnil View Post

        The team participated in their first FLL this year, and was really unprepared, since the teachers did not know much about this either.
        I got into FLL as a teacher with no experience either. Our first year was a disaster, but the kids had fun and learned a little. Each year, I've learned a little more (some of which I've shared with the kids) and the kids and I have grown as we practiced through the off season. Some of the things I've learned from here have been so valuable, like Dean sharing about how to manipulate the mission testing to make programs more robust and reliable. Other things I have learned through playing around on my own, making lots of mistakes and trying new things. I think the most important thing is not to judge yourself too hardly or let the kids get discouraged. Enjoy the process without worrying about trophies and awards.


        • #19
          Originally posted by View Post
          [*]Completely dismantle the robot and redesign it from scratch.
          I'm not a big stickler on teams building their own robot from scratch. I was, but as I work with more and more teams I've grown soft. If you are a team that meets 10 hours a week or has 16 weeks between your first meeting and your tournament I think it is a really good idea. If you meet 4 hours a week and have 9 weeks from start to tournament I am perfectly happy with the educator robot or a robot design you found online. Modify it a bit here and there to make it your own, but don't waste half your schedule trying to build a robot. If you have the parts I would build a robot for development and use what I learn to build a robot for the tournament. If you can do this in parallel, great! A lot of teams do this in serial; use educator robot for season one with some changes, build a custom robot for year two.


          • #20
            I'm going to start a new thread on testing, reliability, troubleshooting, consistency, and practicing. Trying to keep this thread more on point for the OP's questions.
            Norfolk, Virginia, USA
            FLL Coach and Regional Tournament Head judge since 2014


            • #21
              I mean, do you really care if they ran that block for 1.2 or 1.3 revolutions??? Of course not. Safety Glasses and Eye protection Equipment What you should really be looking at is how did they make sure the robot was exactly where it needed to be at that time?