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Week 1: Introduction to #PandaPower Robotics
Learn more about #PandaPower Robotics and our plan for the future!
My name is Anika Mehrotra, I’m a sophomore at Los Altos High School. I am a FIRST Lego League (FLL) alum, after being on team 33017 #PandaPower for 5 seasons. I’ve recently graduated from the FLL program and I’m now starting an organization to help rookie teams get their footing in this program.
Welcome to our very first newsletter! If you have comments, please reply and let us know. And if you like it, feel free to send your teammates and friends to sign up for future updates!
#PandaPower Robotics: An organization dedicated to enabling FLL teams around the world
Being a part of the FLL West Coast circuits for the past few years has really opened our eyes to the inequities between new and returning teams.
When we were starting #PandaPower, we had no idea what to do. We went into our first competition practically blind, with no idea what to expect. We didn’t know how scoring and judging worked, we barely understood the robot game. By some luck, we made it through the qualifiers and were enthused enough to continue. But on the other hand, we saw so many other new teams at our first qualifier, many of whom were discouraged by not advancing and dropped out of the program shortly after.
Over the years, our team built on our early success and grew into a pretty successful team. For the past 5 seasons, we have been invited to the World Festival 3 out of 5 years (more on what that means in the next post). You can read more about the team at pandapowerrobotics.com. We’ve had a lot of fun, and also learned what it takes to be a championship Lego robotics team.
We are creating #PandaPower Robotics to help rookie and underserved teams get the resources and knowledge they need to become successful, driven FLL teams. Having done this for 6 years now, we feel we have learned a lot of practical knowledge that can help teams get over the early learning curve and into the fun part of the FLL experience.
Our first step: A step-by-step learning guide for new teams
We brainstormed all the things we learned through our first few seasons and organized them into a structured curriculum. Over the next few weeks, this newsletter will go through most of these topics in order.
Effective team formation: Who to ask, ideal sizes, etc.
Running an effective team: How to run meetings, take good notes, coordinate tasks
Testing and reliability: How to drive reliability in your runs, work on timing, etc
Mechanical — Passive
Learning the Lego pieces: What are the different pieces? Which ones do you really need?
Building strong structures: How to secure in different directions, using frames and triangles. How to maximize strength while minimizing weight.
Simple machines: Building levels / planes, triggers, wall huggers, locks & steps, attach & release, etc
Mechanical — Active
Base robots and attachments: What is a base robot? How do you make effective attachments?
Working with Gears: Learn about gear ratios and torque. Understand how to manipulate gears to change directions
Powered machines: Forklifts, cranes, arm extensions, active droppers, etc
Different sources of energy: Motors, pulleys, pneumatics, rubber bands, dropping weights, passive, etc. Learn about the tradeoffs of different sources.
Programming basics: Understanding the Interface, motor movement, turning, etc.
Functions, modules, and sensors: Setting up functions/MyBlocks, master programs, etc.
Routing: Line following, aligning to walls and lines, etc.
We have a few other ideas for resources and activities we’d like to provide, and we’ll introduce them through these posts as well as on pandapowerrobotics.com. For example, we have ideas for holding office hours and workshops, hosting competitive challenges, and helping teams purchase the right Lego kits. More on that to come soon...
Please subscribe to this newsletter to get regular updates! Our next post will focus on: Learning more about FIRST Lego League (FLL)!