Monday, March 28, 2016

Robotics Update: Mother Nature and Onto FLL

Mother Nature has gotten the best of us lately! Arrg! The most frustrating thing about cancellations is that it slows down any momentum that we had going with our robots. We don’t always remember what we’re coming back to when it’s two weeks later!  I have decided that I will be extending robotics club beyond the April break to make up for the two sessions we have lost. Those will happen on April 25 and May 2, at the usual time.

I’m also excited to announce an exciting new opportunity for students that will begin right after robotics club ends! As many of you know, I also coach two FIRST LEGO League teams; this program takes many of the things that we learn in robotics club to a whole new level. Our season doesn’t begin in full until August, but now is a good time to begin recruiting new students to join our teams. One way that I do that is by holding spring practices; while they don’t encompass the full breadth of the FLL experience, they do give students a taste of what being on a team looks like. I will introduce them to the three core elements of LEGO League, show them around the challenge table, and even challenge them to work on a robot to complete some challenges! They can even take the robots that they are working on now and modify them to try their hands at it!

Spring practices will begin on May 9 (the Monday after robotics club ends) and run about the same time (they’ll actually run until about 5, so students from other schools can attend, but they’ll be able to take the 4:30 bus home if they need to). We’ll have three practices in total, up until May 23rd (the Monday before Memorial Day). There will also be an Open House on May 9th, from 5 to 5:30 or so, so that I can introduce you, the parents, to LEGO League and what it means to be an FLL parent.

So, to recap:
  • Last day for Robotics Club is now May 2nd
  • Spring practices for FIRST LEGO League begin May 9th and run Mondays until May 23rd
  • Open House for new/interested LEGO League students and parents is Monday, May 9, at 5:00 pm.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Robotics Club Update: When Mother Nature Gets in the Way

The downside of doing an after school robotics club in the winter is that we are at the mercy of Mother Nature. That was certainly the case last week, when all after school activities were cancelled, including robotics club. When possible, I try to make up after school sessions that are lost to inclement weather. I also try to extend time beyond the original program window if students are close to being finished with a project that I find would be worth seeing through to the end. However, it is not always possible to make up sessions during the week, and so I have in the past held sessions on Saturdays for whoever is able to attend. Attendance at make up sessions is NOT required, and I understand that many students are not able to attend. However, I always believe in providing the maximum opportunities for as many students as I can, whether it be in robotics or anything else.

Looking at my calendar, we have about four weeks left of robotics camp, which ends on April 11th. Between the standardized test window opening, robotics competitions with the Viking Landers, and other obligations, it does not appear that any makeups can be scheduled for a weekday prior to April break. In addition, I have obligations every weekend leading up to break as well, so in all likelihood any makeups that I schedule will be done after April break. Stay tuned.

Speaking on weekend commitments, there is one coming up this weekend and your child is invited! Cub Scout Pack 235 is once again hosting the Waldo District Pinewood Derby this Saturday, March 19th, at the Stockton Springs Elementary School. While the event begins at 1:00, registration and check in begin at 11:30, and that’s a ripe time for demonstrating LEGO robotics to the many people that will be in attendance. I was invited last year to bring some LEGO robots to show and had a blast doing it, and I’m very excited that we have been invited to do it again this year. So, if any after school robotics students are interested in showing off their robots and what they can do with them, please contact me by email ( or by phone at the school (548-2317) to let me know. I would love to bring robots with me, but not if nobody is going to be there!

Keep calm and build robots!