Welcome to Paul's Blog
This is where I put down my thoughts occasionally.
FLL CVMS Viperbots 1 Regional Competition
So two days ago I woke on at 6:30 to get to school before 7:15 to go to a First Lego League(FLL) regional competition. The competition was hosted by Westview Centennial Secondary School. There were two teams from our school, Viperbots 1, and Viperbots 2. We got there in one of the Viperbot 2's team member's parent's car with others and waited for others to arrive. (I was in Team Viperbots 1!)
I handed out cue cards that I created. We signed in and went to the cafeteria to set up our area. We had a bit of time to set up our robot, and then it was time for the opening ceremony.
Energized by the opening ceremony, we went back and quickly worked on our robots. However, our robots were far from being ready. Soon, it was time to do our first robot practice round. The robot competition went as the following: There were three practice rounds in the morning. The scores earned in the practice rounds didn't count. After that, there were three real rounds, where the best score is used to rank the teams. We got a score of 0 out of 300 in the first practice round. Keep in mind that there were 15 teams at the regional competition, and the best score was 125. Then after the first practice round, it was time to go to our Core Values judging.
The FLL competition is divided into three parts. The first part is the Core Values part. It represents a team's values on teamwork, cooperation, etc. The second part is the project. In FLL, each year, there is a theme. This year's theme was space exploration. We were given a task to research the restraints to space exploration, and find a solution to this problem. The third part is the robot design part. We get to explain our robot's design and innovation to our judges.
For the Core Values judging part, we had to do a task as a team, and answer a few questions. The task we had to do was get a lego brick out from a small hole, with an oven glove on. We quickly completed the mission by pressing a long lego brick onto the brick in the hole and bringing it out. The judges exclaimed that we were very quick. We answered a few questions on how we cooperated. However, we didn't tell them everything, as the few people including me, didn't include others who wanted to also work on the robotics piece of the competition. I know I will feel guilty about it whenever I think about this competition.
After the Core Values judging part, we had to go to another room to showcase our robot design. This one, I will feel a little sad about, as I think I had some innovative ideas, but it really didn't get through the team. We sucked at robot design showcase because our robot sucked. I honestly think there were way too many engineers on the team.
Finally, we got to the project judging part. We came to another room. We prepared ourselves, and we entered the room with a bell ringing. (Using an app on J.L.'s phone, she's on the team) We proceeded to do the skit that I wrote based on the girls on my team's research. I've got to say that it was perfect, except that we read from the cue cards too much. They asked us a few questions. Then we were out, with a grin on our face. We did very well in Core Values and in our project piece!
We later did 2 practice robot games and we both got 0. Lunch started. We had pizza lunch! Teams started to get callbacks. A callback happens when judges have multiple teams that are doing the same level of performance, and they have another three judges judge again to rank teams. My team, Viperbots 1 got one callback on Project. The other team from our school got two callbacks, on Project and Core Values. We worked on the robot.
We then realized that one of our motors wasn't as strong as the other one! Right before our presentation, one of our teammates dropped our robot. We thought that was the cause of this problem. We didn't have any other solution! We were doomed! Luckily, one of our two coaches, Mr. Epstein borrowed a motor from Don Valley MS to replace it for the robot game. We quickly had to build our robot, we started to disassemble our robot. Then we decided to get everyone to practice our presentation again before doing the callback project presentation, which didn't go well, as some of us weren't serious. Then we realized that it was time. We just left our table in the cafeteria with just 6 minutes to get to the room! Then Mr. Epstein stopped me and said that leaving robot components(legos) on the ground was unacceptable(Which I agreed with), and told me to find 3 other teammates to help me clean up. It took me 4 minutes to find other teammates that went ahead, and I told everyone that we only had a minute to get to the room nobody on our team knew its whereabouts. Luckily we really had two minutes, which J.L. told the team about. We took a minute and a half to find the hallway the room was in, and 20 seconds to get there just in time. With Mr. Epstein waiting in front of us. He explained that we shouldn't have left the components on the ground. Then the judges opened the door from the inside and let us in. J.L. rang the bell, and once again we did the skit well. After the project presentation, Mr. Epstein congratulated us on the presentation, saying that he never have seen us do the presentation that well.
We went back and were told that we only had 10 minutes before the game, and furiously built the robot. Mrs. Bushell, one of our coaches other than Mr. Epstein, told us that they mixed up their schedule with Viperbots 1, and that we had 20 minutes before the game. We finished our robot, and honestly, it was better than the original, as it was less cluttered and took up less space.
We went to the gym to do our first real robot game. Before the game, Mr. Epstein said that after the game, the judges will show the drivers(Ones who are actually setting up the robots and running the programs, our team's drivers where L.L. and K.N.) a tablet with our scores on. He told us that the referees will tell us to sign it by tapping a button on the screen, and if we didn't agree with anything on the tablet, don't touch that tablet and tell the referees that you don't agree, and they will either correct their mistake on the scoring, or go ahead with the scores. Then we asked him if this one was the real game, and he said yes. We again got zero on the robot. This was because I switched the wires connecting to the controlling brick, thinking it would help, but switched the wrong ones
We went back and I told others that we would be better off if we started from scratch on our programs. Others agreed. I went to find the light sensor, thinking that we had an hour before the next robot game, but we didn't. We only had 30 minutes. However, luckily our team got 16 points on our second one. When I went back, our team was on fire! Our inner team's skills suddenly emerged. **We went from zero to completing 6 missions in one hour!** I suddenly noticed the sudden progress of our team. Right before the last and third robot game, we had 6 missions working, which would give us 60+ score, which would place us at top 6 or 7! However, our robot worked only if we placed the robot on the right place, meaning, if we placed the robot a little off, it would fail, and that is what exactly happened. We again scored zero.
We were furious. Alas, the competition was over, and we had to clean up. During the closing ceremony, the judges gave the teams that performed well in each of the three pieces of the competition and the best team overall a plaque. We anticipated if we would get a plaque for the presentation. We didn't. We got nothing. We set a record in Cummer Valley for being the worst team ever! Our teammates were depressed. After the closing ceremony, Mr. Epstein gave a word to all of us. He said that even if we had ups and downs, if we had fun today and along the journey and learned something, it was worth it. I agree. I also awknowledged that 80% of all our work was done today and asked us what we thought about that. I had fun, and it was a great learning experience for me. I don't know about others, but I think it was worth it. However I knew some of us on the team didn't really feel valued, and I will forever remember this and if there is ever another project like this, I vow I will make sure this won't happen again in teams that I will be on.
Back at home, I felt very sad. Me being a new kid at a totally different province makes be very lonely at Cummer Valley, and the thing that I looked forward to every week was robotics club, and it ended(As far as I know, but Mr. Epstein said we will meet again in near future). A thing I enjoyed about school was gone! I met other kids in other grades in the club, and I got to work with them! I am forever grateful for my experience on the robotics team @ Cummer Valley, for our coaches, Mr. Epstein and Mrs. Bushell, and for my teammates. When I think of Cummer Valley, the second thing I will think of will be robotics. Thank you to everyone at FLL for making this possible.
Because of the end of something I enjoyed at Cummer Valley, I think my last night's dream after the competition was influenced by the competition. My dream was about going up a mountain in Vancouver(I think) on an elevator, and seeing my friend, Stalepillow's house up the mountain on a floor. On a different floor, there was a tennis court with people partying. Back on the floor with my friend's house on, in the dream, I knew that it was previously owned by my another friend, Diamonddino, not Stalepillow, and now it is being owned by a man who turned it into a hotel, with a chapel connected to it. I explored it and met the man and the hotel was deserted except for myself and the man in the dream. Then, suddenly my dream turned into a scene showing Diamonddino at an elementary school in a suburban area right before sunset. The dream ended right after the scene.
I think the dream happened because I was sad that I will no longer be meeting regularly with my robotics team twice regularly every week, and I haven't really established close relationships with others outside of the club that much and thought about my friends back in Vancouver unconsciously.
I still have one question: How did our team suddenly do 80% of all our work in the last hour of the competition?