Monday, December 8, 2008

FLL Competition Day

Hi this is Tad. On Saturday morning I woke up at 7:00 at the Greensboro Embassy Suittes. My dad had the wrong time and thought it was only 6:30! So mom hurried me out of bed and I felt like a race car in the pit that morning. Because I woke up late, I was forced to get dressed immediately and then, I was rushed downstairs to try to eat some breakfast. That morning I did not eat much, I was too excited.. After taking a couple bites of my ham omelet, I was rushed with the team to the car. It was also really freezing outside, below 30! Then we got to competition. It was at the Greensboro Colliseum. The FLL State Championship!

The first thing we did was lots of serious practice on the robot runs. Suddenly, it was already time for the Technical Interview at 8:40 am! It went really well and everyone had something to say. After technical we still were tweaking our programs and had another practice. Then we had our favorite part, the Presentation, which went super great! I can't wait to see the video that Mr. Ivers took. Still tweaking our programs, we had another practice. Then we had the Team Building exercise and, at the end the judge said we nailed it. We were so happy! Then we had our last practice on our robot runs which was actually on the table that we would be running the robot for real on.

After lunch in Mr. Whipkers van (Subway outside!) we started running the robot for real. Our first run, which went very good, gave us the most points. We then watched the other homeschool teams the Spacebots and the Technoalliance and cheered them on alot. The second run, which was not as great as the first one, did not give us any more points. And the last run gave us little I think 220 points. But the judges seemed very happy with us also and talked alot to everyone, said it was great that we tried the house. We were the only team that attempted to do the house. We had so much fun and I wanted to stay on the floor much longer! It goes by so fast.
After all the robots runs were done, we had 30 minutes to play, relax, snack, and have fun with everyone. Then, the award ceremony started. The award ceremony took forever to introduce everyone. There were so MANY teams! Every team that competed got cool medals and I think Rebekah or Zach asked if we could get some extra medals for the coaches too. The Microbots finally got called out to parade in, and the team carried me in holding the sign that Mrs. Medina made! Everyone cheered and I could see our family and friends doing our silly Manamanama "team song". It was so great!
Finally, it was time to get to the special FLL trophies. We were all so nervous. At one point, Patrick said he was almost sure we would get a trophy in robot runs because we were second after Magellan in points. Then all the sudden the team started standing up and I was thinking "What are they doing?" then Patrick said we won a trophy for robot runs. I did not even hear the judges call us. We were so happy! Magellan won the first place for robot runs with their amazing score.
After they gave us that 2nd place trophy for robot performance, we were going to get a some pictures taken in the back stage area. But then suddenly, one of the judges came out of nowhere and said to us and the picture people "I really think they could get the pictures taken later, you guys should go back to the award ceremony right away". We knew the awards were almost done. Only maybe one or two to go, and then the FLL NC State Championship Award! So then I was so super excited that we maybe would win something else? Maybe another trophy for the Microbots? We went running like crazy back to our spot on the floor.
After about 10 minutes of awarding more trophies, they got to the BIG one. Then the judges announced 2nd place of the whole competition. It was all a big blur. I could not breathe. Then the judges said they said first place goes to the team who made a website, had business cards, designed a Lego Water-Efficient house defined the Core Values so well and my heart was racing like crazy. We were all clutching each other! Then they said this award goes to: Team 262, The Microbots!! Then I sprang up and ran with my team mates to get that big trophy! It was the most cool moment ever.
They took lots and lots of official pictures with our team, and then we all took lots of other pictures with our friends and our family. We could not believe it. I still can't believe it. We really did it! We won the FLL State Championhip! We are the Champions! Saturday was the best day ever of my life! It was a such a great year. I though sometimes I would burst from everything we learned from studying climate connections and from all those late nights at the Spains! Most of all though, we always had so much fun with our great coaches and our great team. Our families worked so hard to help us have the time to really go the distance on our project. Our coaches never gave up on us even though we had some very hard times. It was all worth it. I would do it again and work even harder if I had to.

Saturday ended and we all went back to the hotel with the whole team and had a little party and another team, known as the Spacebots came and joined us. Mr. Jared came and brought us some special dinner in the crock pot. We even ordered pizza and chinese food. We were all so tired and so happy. Thank you to everyone for your help this year. We have so many awesome people to thank that helped us and guided us this year in Cary and in Brisbane. Thank you MICROBOTS you are the best. Thank you Coach Medina and Coach Whipker for always believeing in us and challenging us to finish our work. Thank you daddy, Coach Miller. I love you. I can't wait to see what we will decide to do next. I think 2009 will be a very special year!

Sunday, December 7, 2008


About a year ago to date an email went out to all the Microbot families warning them to start packing for Atlanta as their beloved children were showing strong signs of being able to win their FLL state championship.

With only two years of experience the children were fixed on getting started almost as soon as the 2007 season was over. They started working in late January to early February of 2008 and never looked back. They researched, studied, programmed, took courses at their local community college and put in a lot of their time, and not to mention their parents, coaches and siblings time as well.

The end result to this year Climate Connection topic? A second place trophy for robotic performance, an award rightly given due to the fact that they ranked #2 throughout the entire tournament. Their interviews for Team work, Technical and Research were all solid and well performed. So as awards were continued to be announced and handed throughout the evening it came down to the last two. The 1st and second place Champion award trophy for overall performance.
The end result............The Microbots took first place.

While one might ask or jest at how such a group of young children lead up to winning a first place trophies three consecutive years, plus an overall Champion award on their third year? The secret in fact is no secret at all. Hard work is the proven tried and true method of success.

This was not a right to win but earned through the time given to perfect and make right.
In the end, just one day removed from this momentus day for all our children there is only one thing this dad can say.
Three years, 2 first place trophies a second place robotic performance and a Champion award............PRICELESS!!!

Coach Medina

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Last Week Rush

Okay, only 2 more days before our North Carolina State Championship competition, and we have suffered from what I call "Last week rush." The last week rush is where you have still not completed everything that you wanted to complete and are now attempting (with only a few days left) to finish it all. Nerves are breaking, sleep is being lost, and tempers are flaring. This has happened to us the last two seasons, and in our first year, we where still solving challenges the night before! Our goal this year was to make a 400 run by November 1 and then do Time trials up until competition. Well, it's 2 days before competition, we are doing time trials, but with a 385 point run that was completed just yesterday. It's hard to finish beforehand, I admit, but it saves everyone a whole lot of headaches, and you actually look forward to competeing, and don't feel so burnt out. Sometimes I guess, you have to take what's given to you, and make the best of it, but man, will I be glad when this last minute stress is over! Can't wait for Saturday!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

How To Successfully Coach a FLL Team

Our robot affectionately named Robbie has crashed. The left button is now stuck on even though it is brand new. As a result, it cycles through the menus and will not run our completed programs. I am sure it is still under warrantee but it is two weeks until competition and our backup robot runs the programs differently.

So what is a coach to do? Two weeks until competition and all of the programs have to be rebuilt? Coach Medina and I have become accomplished ping pong players. At first, he beat me regularly but I have started to "give him a game". Since the Microbots do the work, we lamented over Robbie and buried him (sent him back to the manufacturer). Then we got back to our ping pong games as any third year coach would do.

When the going gets tough, the tough get going! We coaches played some our best ping pong games. Coach Medina is up two games to one at the present time. There was a time when I couldn't win. Meanwhile, the Microbots are back to the drawing board. Doing what they always do.

Growth and Learning....

FIRST LEGO League is all about the kids – learning, applying what was learned, growing and having fun. But as our State Competition draws near and we enter Thanksgiving week (also known among the Microbots as Microbot Bootcamp week), as all the kids and coaches and parents get ready for the last push of a very intense fall, and as we all just keep saying “we just need to hold on until December 7th and then we can sleep” it’s good to step back and look at what the year’s been about.

I’ve been especially amazed by the growth in the kids this year. What they’ve accomplished this year on all fronts they couldn’t have even dreamed of last year – or come close to even imagining their first year in FLL!

We’ve seen the growth physically – from deepening voices to acne breakouts, bigger feet, kids who can look me in the eyes, the need for deodorant, and brains that shut off and fall asleep as their bodies focus on growing.

We seen growth in general knowledge and learning – huge leaps in skills in robot engineering and design, programming, researching, and writing; learning new skills like website design and survey development; conquering computer applications like PowerPoint, Word, Photoshop, and Kompozer; making full use of online tools like SurveyMonkey, NING, Noodlebib, Writeboard and Lego Digital Designer (whose capacity really maxes out with a 3000 piece design set).

There has been huge growth in team work – understanding how to brainstorm positively, how to communicate as a team online, by phone, and in person throughout the week, week after week, how each individual piece of the puzzle has to fit together to make a much bigger whole, how to work individually, in pairs, in threes, and as an entire group, how to fill in for each other when things fall apart, how “Noob” may be a positive phrase or a negative phrase.

In the specific research project they’ve chosen, they’ve also grown in long term more intangible knowledge and skills – how small the world really is as they watched their website statistics count up the visitors from state after state to continent after continent, how they can make a difference globally as people responded about water issues from all parts of the globe, how they can write emails to large, anonymous websites for permission to use photos and get real people answering them with positive encouragement and enthusiasm, how they can talk to state legislators about different issues and have them listen.

And in long term individual organizational skills, they’ve each learned a lot this year about how important the tiny details are in research and programming, how to push on when they get tired, how to follow through to the end after deciding to aim extremely high in both research and programming, how to keep going the direction they need to head despite the differing opinions of the coaches, and how to work with deadline after deadline in an almost overwhelming process.

These kids are just 11, 12 and 13 but because of their team work, their spirit, and their unflagging friendship and desire to work and play together day after day, week after week, they have the (almost always!) unflagging support of 12 parents and 8 tag-along siblings as they keep moving forward. I doubt that any of the parents or coaches could keep up the pace if it wasn’t for the desire, the growth, and the huge benefits we see that these 6 kids gain from each other and the FLL projects. Growth can be painful, frustrating and hard sometimes but it can also be a beautiful thing to watch and be a part of!

Now… to just push on for the next 2 weeks to try to get everything done before competition…!!!!

Mrs. W (Research Coach)

Saturday, November 8, 2008

About Research

We have two FLL seasons under our belt, and better yet, two first place trophies, both in Research. The research project is often overlooked, and the Unofficial Guide to First LEGO League said that it was "easy" and a "science project". To whoever is reading this post, the writer(s) of this book must not have seen and/or made a research project in the last 4 years. The team went to the 2007 world championship in Atlanta, Georgia, and was blown away by the size and quality of the competing teams research presentations. This year we are literally blowing our minds trying to compile pages and pages of research on an extremely tight schedule. This is neither easy nor insignificant.

Much of the thanks for our research success should go to our research coach, who has a flair for organization and heavy duty research, and I am NOT kidding! She has kept us in line and put up with us for almost 3 years, and we haven't done bad. Her oversight has really made our projects what they have been. From what I have learned in these 3 years, here are 3 keys which I feel are important to having a competitive project.

The first key to success is that the judges like to see that a team compiled a lot of research. Last year when we won first place in research, we gave them about a 100 page book with a complete bibliography, a DVD from some of our field trips, and a summary of all the research we did.

The second key to success is to have a creative presentation. The judges that are watching you have dozens of teams ahead of them, and they won't give you high points unless they stay with you. Teams must have a creative presentation to keep them focused and listening to your research. Having lots of good research is nothing if the judges shut down their brains and don't hear a thing you say.

The final key to success is taking what you have learned, and affecting the community with it. Teams have gone to worlds because of the way they have impacted the community with their presentation, and the judges where really impressed. Part of the challenge this year is sharing the things we have learned! Last year we had to take what we learned from our energy audit that we made, and make recommendations to the building we audited.

Again, completing all this is NOT easy. The project this year is the toughest we have ever done. But it is important in order to win, to score high on the presentation. Got research?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Time Out

After burning the candle heavily every weekend, Coach Medina has decided to take the Microbots bowling on Friday night. Friday is usually spent conducting research with Coach Whipker during the day and on the table in the evening. Many a Microbot has been burned out by 6pm after an intensive day of research. Thursdays and Saturdays are the more productive days on the table (yes, we meet three days a week).

The Microbots have been working on Robotics all year since our first year. It started with a single pair of programmers, two or three builders, and a run team of two people. We are a different team than we were when we first started. Every member of the team can program, build, or run the robot. They have really evolved from the young people that were overwhelmed by the competition to team members that like to meet and work together.

They have decided to go for it this year but there are many other very capable teams. The North Carolina State Championship, like many other states, is a very competitive FLL event. We are part of the 80 teams that will compete this year. Over the past two months, we have had team members sleeping during practice, fighting through colds, and working on their “day off”.

To reward them for their hard work, and prepare for the last month, we will go bowling instead of practicing. They certainly deserve the break.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Crunch Time

The 2008 North Carolina FLL season is 2/3rds complete. We are one month away from our State Championship. It is officially crunch time! It is interesting because we are taking tonight, Halloween off. The stress of the first two months was incredible but I feel like the coaching staff and the team is seeing light at the end of the tunnel.

We have come to realize that FLL is not a competition against others although we will we compete against others. It is a competition with ourselves. As a third year team, we know what is expected to be competitive. Can we achieve all that we wish to? We can only hope so.

We continue to learn through research, robot building, programming, and running. We don't have all of the answers, even after three years. But we aren't the naive team that we were three years ago either. I suspect that there are many better teams out there. Our job is not to worry about them but to worry about bettering ourselves.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

To the Newbies

As one of the coaches for the Microbots I have had the privilege of witnessing first hand brilliance in the making. To see these children three years ago, youngest starting some where in the realm of age nine to where they are today is simply remarkable. They have learned so much and have worked so hard that words do not suffice to help describe the joy it gives a dad/coach.

From complete strangers to best of friends who could have picked a better group as fate guided their hands as they picked names out of a hat. Their common ground, Friday night Lego practice is what they will say, work will certainly find its way into second place as friendship, companionship and camaraderie will crown. With a third year already in the making there are certainly no gurantees of its outcome, but one thing will continue to ring true, they will have fun, and there will be lots of laughter to follow.

Coach Newb

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Hardest Challenge

This year's challenge could actually be the hardest that any FLL team has ever faced. Climate Connections is deceptively hard and perhaps even harder than the challenges of previous years. In North Carolina, our state championship is December 6th so teams have effectively three months to solve the challenge and create a research project. Many other states conduct regional championships in early January with a state championship at the end of January. The result is a more difficult state championship with more teams and less time. This can be viewed in one of two ways. The first is the pessimistic view which says that it isn't enough time and the chances of winning are smaller. The other is optimistic view which says if it is hard for us, it also hard for the other teams. Let’s go win!

This year, the North Carolina State Championship is limited to 80 teams. We think that we made the cut for the championship but we won't know for sure for a couple more days. 80 teams is probably the most that can fit in a single day of competition. There is a rookie competition for the first year teams in early January. It seems like it is right around the corner!

We expect tough competition from both teams that we know and the teams that perhaps are new to FLL. We wish all of the teams competing in this tournament the best of luck! First Lego league is not easy and very few of the 80 NC teams will go home with a trophy.

We thank James T. and Kyle B. for helping us to gather 6 strangers who work well together, who have worked hard this year, and who will be competitive. In talking to other teams, this is the real hard challenge. Go Microbots!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

It is really hard

First Lego League appears deceptively easy at first, but when you get into it, it is a lot harder. Lego's are easy to build, so people would think that the challenges are easy to. The challenges are built to be hard. They often put things in the corner or put one challenge in front of another. This makes a seemingly easy challenge harder.

I've been part of lego league for three years. The first year we would go out and do a single challenge. We were lucky if it worked. That year, when we did our challenges, our robot runs weren't very accurate. The second year, we tried to do at least two challenges per run and we tried to not to make too many turns. Now, we are in the third year and we are doing multiple challenges per run. It has been working pretty well.

We started when we were pretty young. Our oldest player was eleven and some of us were nine. The original team is still together and really like each other. There is a lot of respect among the team members. Every year, we have gotten better. In our first year, only Patrick could program. In our second year, more of us could program. This year, everyone truly can do everything.

We have not stopped practicing since we began Nanoquest. We worked on some of the old challenges like Ocean Odyssey during the off-season. We even brought out Nanoquest and did it again in March of this year. I look forward to Lego League every Friday night. It is three hours of pure fun!

Still, I never forget that lego league is really hard. Sometimes I have to remind the coaches and mentors of this. Since they have never built a sophistocated attachment or program, it is easy for them to think it is easy. But it isn't. It is especially hard this year.


Friday, September 19, 2008

A Sad Situation

Some of the Microbots take Tae Kwon Do at the Middle Creek Community Center. As I was picking them up, I noticed that they had "First Lego League (9-11) (12-14)" written on their whiteboard. My feeling upon reading this was one of happiness. Middle Creek was building not just one team but two!

I asked the gentleman at the counter about this and he said, "I am sorry. We had to cancel the class. There just weren’t enough people signed up."

Starting a First Lego League team requires a lot of resources. The most common problems that I have seen with new teams are the need for coach (or coaches) and a place to practice. A first year team will require a lot of education (mostly programming) and that means a lot of time spent with the team for the coach. Many parents are reluctant to sign up for such a time commitment. You also need a place where you can meet. This place must be big enough to set up a 4’x8’ mat with the missions. Middle Creek Community Center seemed to have both.

"Oh no!” I remarked to the gentleman at the desk. "I know lots of folks who are looking for a team. I can send them to you. He took my email and told me that he would pass it on to the person who had organized the classes. I am hoping that he sends me an email because I do get a lot of parents who want to find a team. If you are looking for a team, you might want to call the center and pursue this.

You see, this is how the Microbots got started. I went to Wake Forrest (an hour drive from Raleigh) to attend an organizing session. The fellow who was putting together the team, James T., asked if anyone was from Cary. I said “Yes”. He sent me the email addresses of 13 parents who wanted to be part of a team. I organized a meeting at Colonial Baptist Church to talk about Lego League.

A friend of mine, Kyle B., was one of the emailers. He taught the kids how to program and then we each took seven of the kids and formed the Spacebots and the Microbots. Both teams are still in FLL, three years later. It has been challenging but also intensely rewarding. Let me just say that FLL is an intense experience for young people. But if you have a child that wants to become an engineer, it is the “Little League” of engineering.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Brush With Greatness

Our first year was a very difficult one. While we had many builders, we were a young team and Patrick and Clark were the only ones who could program. In the challenges, we actually did pretty well for our lack of experience. We came in under the average in terms of point total on the challenges but not near the bottom. We were thrilled at how well we had done.

This was the 2006 NC State FLL Championship and the powerhouse in our state was Magellan Charter School (see the academics section of the web page for their fll accomplishments). In that championship, we had a friendship round, an opportunity for multiple teams to work together to compete against other teams working together. As we stood side by side with the Magellan team, they all seemed to be six feet tall.

The Microbots met with them before the round started and they shared some of their secrets with us. It was amazing how they were accomplishing multiple missions with a single run. They were much older and they could have brushed us off but they didn't. They let us look at their robot and showed us some of their attachments. Our builders took notes.

They asked us what our best run was and we said "Individual Atom Manipulation". They said "then you will do that". We thought, "these guys are the epitome of gracious professionalism". We spent probably a half an hour talking with them. Our coaches even had to come looking for us. We were going to miss the challenge!

We won the “friendship challenge” with their help or maybe they won it with our help. They also won the NC State Championship and we said we want to be just like them someday.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Building the Bot

I've been asked to write a bit about how we go about building our challenge robot.  As I thought about it, I've realized that our methods have changed over the past three years.  For instance, the first year we had three people working on the robot and they just started to build.  We didn't talk about what we would do or plan in any way.  Our robot turned out very big and clunky.  We didn't even change it as the season went on.  In our second year everyone built their own design on their own and then met and voted on what design we liked best.  But then, we decided that we didn't like that design and another team member came up with a robot and we just kept that.  This, our third year, in my opinion has been the most successful.  This is what we did.
We had 8 hours to come up with a design for this years upcoming challenge-Climate Connections.  First we sketched out our ideas for certain parts of the robot such as wheels, base and framing.  We voted on our favorite designs for each of those parts and then put them all together.  Then we sketched out our final design.  
Now came the fun part-building it!  We had one team building the framing of the general robot.  The second team was working on the wheels.  The third worked on attachment framing.  The result was a very sturdy and accurate robot.  Now that I've shared a bit about how our team has approached the building, here are some other things you need to consider in any robot design.  
Simplicity is key-this is especially important if your robot falls apart (during competition even) you need to be able to quickly rebuild without having to go back to your blue print.  This brings up a good thing to do-document your robot on LDD (LEGO digital designer) or by taking multiple pictures of it as you build.  Simplicity also becomes a plus when you have to make a battery switch-this almost always involves taking the brick off the frame in order to switch batteries.  You don't want to remove the brick and not be able to figure out how to get it back on!  Another thing to consider in this area is how will you access the ports.  Make sure that your framing doesn't make it impossible to get to your ports.  Lastly, a very important thing is being able to see your screen.  Without clearly seeing the LCD screen, you can't navigate through your programs or see what program the robot is currently on.  
I've got lots more to say but, that's enough for a new team to consider.  Hopefully, you can read this and learn to not make the same mistakes we did when building our robot.  See you at competition!  

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

FLL Core Values

We are a team.

We do the work to find solutions with guidance from our coaches and mentors.

We honor the spirit of friendly competition.

What we discover is more important than what we win.

We share our experiences with others.

We display gracious professionalism in everything we do.

We have fun.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Common Sources of Faliure

2:50 Friday, August 29, 2008
The purpose of this post is to identify common sources of faliure in robot running. I will update this post as more sources are discovered. The reason I am doing this is I have personal experience in failing because of a little error in competition. In 2007, I was chosen to perform the final run. We had not had a 400 run yet, but we had come extremely close, only missing one obstacle during a mission. I could feel the pressure as I stepped up to the table, robot in hand, with my assisting team-mate beside me. When the time started, I hit the enter button on the robot, sending it on it's first challenge. It completed it, however, when it returned, it would not run the next program. For the rest of the run, I desperately tried to figure out the source of the problem. After time had run out, we discovered a loose wire connecting to the motor, which was why the robot would not work. That is the first common source of faliure, having an insecure wire. The second was discovered at practice a few days ago. I was running the robot, and it was really screwing up it's turns, and we could not figure out the reason. Someone then pointed out that our tire was slightly loose from the hub, wacking the turns. All these sources of common faliure can lead to the downfall of the best teams, and should be checked for before each and every run. As I mentioned earlier, I hope to find more of the little errors and post more on them later.

6:56 Friday, August 29, 2008
Another source of faliure is not a little glitch or a small problem. This faliure is positioning the robot at weird angles, going by tick marks and such. This tends to really mess things up, since only one-eighth of a degree difference, and you're off. What's much better is to always position in the corner next to the wall.

4:13 Saturday September 13 2008
A great source of faliure in the team is distractions. The team all needs to be focused or the whole thing falls apart. We bought a LEGO set simply for several aspects that we could use for our robot, namely, the exceptionally large wheels. However, that same set came with lots of pieces that seemed to distract team members from their tasks. Talking while working is one of the other things that distract teams. We as a team like seeing each other and enjoy spending time with each other, however sometimes we get too excited about seeing each other and get off task, which breaks the team's concentration. In order to go to Atlanta this year, we must be totally focused, eliminating all distractions, and putting our whole minds towards solving this challenge.

4:28 Saturday November 8 2008
Something that has been really brought into the light recently with our robot runs is the need to make a clean getaway, for lack of a better term. When solving a challenge, it is most necessary to make sure that when executing the run, there are no obstacles that create drag on the robot. On our run that delivers the carbon balls into the underground reservoir, the LEGO bricks that surround the area create drag, which creates a variability when removing the attachment from the area. Because of the 3 little bricks that are around the research area, we have had to create "mudflaps" that are just put on the back of the wheel cage that keeps that kind of thing from getting into the wheel and screwing up the run. This factor is especially important this year, as in previous years, because there are more things on the board that create that kind of friction.

6:01 Saturday November 22 2008
A big thing for us lately is variability within different robots. We where using another robot we called Robbie, but since he recently crashed, and our back-up robot Lenny is not working either, we have had to use my own personal robot, which we have dubbed Mac the Microbot. This robot is soo different than any other robots we have used, we have to rework all our programs. It is a tedious task, especially 2 weeks before competition, but we have to do it.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Starting Our Third Year

Tonight marks the second meeting of our third year of First Lego League. We continue to meet every Friday night during the season and have largely the same team as we did three years ago. The young Microbots have grown older and their skills at building robots and programming them have grown as well.

I can still remember that first night when Kyle B. and I got 14 strangers together to form two FLL teams. We didn't know what we were getting into. The Microbots won the coin flip and kept the name that both teams had agreed on while Kyle's team became the Spacebots. Both teams have continued to compete in the North Carolina State Championships and both teams have been competitive.

Who would have believed that the seven kids that formed the Microbots (one has aged out) would become such close friends, as well as teamates, working together to achieve a common goal. As we embark upon Climate Connections, we continue to learn and teach each other new things. I am fortunate to have the support of all of the parents and enjoy working along with Michael M. and Linda W. to help the Microbots develop into fine FLLers.

We have created this blog so that each of the Microbots can reflect upon their experiences as the embark upon the mission to win the State championship and go to Atlanta for the World Championship.