The RoboRangers and Dr. John Nielsen-Gammon

For our project, we needed to find an expert that was familiar with the threat of hurricanes on Texas and their impact on our communities. Dr. John Nielsen-Gammon responded to our email and offered our team help with our project. Dr. Nielsen-Gammon is a Professor of Meteorology at Texas A&M and the current Texas State Climatologist. We were lucky to have Dr. Nielsen-Gammon come to one of our team meetings to talk with us.   He said that the biggest unsolved problems with hurricanes are :

  • The rapid formation of storms
  • The strength of hurricane winds
  • storm surge on barrier islands, like Galveston.
  • people not evacuating.  Over 140,000 Galveston residents did not follow mandatory evacuation orders before Hurricane IKE made landfall, despite dire warnings of storm surge and certain death from forecasters.

He also talked a lot about traffic and its impact on hurricane evacuations.

Dr. John Nielsen-Gammon and the RoboRangers

New Challenge – Nature’s Fury

This year, the game theme is “Nature’s Fury”. Teams are tasked with identifying a community that can be impacted by a natural disaster, identifying a problem that the community faces when the natural disaster strikes, and then coming up with an innovative solution to that problem. The thematic playing field for the robot game is full of lego missions that simulate natural disasters that they autonomous robot needs to navigate through. It’s a pretty neat robot game this year.

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Countdown to the Championship

The RoboRangers have been busy getting ready for the south Texas Championship. They’ve made some additions to their research project and skit, as well as preparing a core values poster and executive summary. The robot handlers have been busy practicing at getting faster achieving their missions. The team has also had fun doing more teamwork challenges. Damian challenged the team to take paint sticks and tape to spell out the word robot.

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The team added on to that and spelled “ROBORANGERS”. Awesome.

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And to get out all the extra energy on a Friday night, the kids did pushups, even honorary little roboranger Conley. Note Morgan finding her center…doing the “child’s” yoga pose. Namaste Morgan.

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Being goofy.

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After the teamwork challenge, Fiona took over the camera and captured a few gems.

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The wheels on the robots go round and round…

Today’s meeting was all about building.  The team broke down into subgroups and built different prototypes of a robot to use in this year’s robot game.  Each were different in size, different wheels, some were geared up, some weren’t, crazy steering system, no steering system… After the crude assembly, the team tested out their designs, keeping record of what worked and what didn’t work.  From their, they will take the best of all the designs and hopefully combine them into one awesome machine!

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DaVinci Bridge

The team had a fun teamwork challenge this week.  Damian gave them each a box of paint sticks and told them to make a bridge that could stand using only the paint sticks.

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They completed the challenge and built a bridge that could stand on its own.  Then Damian built “DaVinci’s Bridge”.  He went over the history and neat mechanics of how the bridge was designed and constructed.  Cool!

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South Texas Qualifier at Cinco Ranch

The RoboRangers competed in one of the first qualifiers for the area this past Saturday.  24 teams descended on Cinco Ranch Junior High School for what turned out to be a great tournament.  CRyptonite 624, the Cinco Ranch High School FRC team, hosted the qualifier.  Their army of volunteers made the event run smoothly and their spirit energized the crowd.

The team started the tournament by first going to the Core Values Teamwork judging.  Although they couldn’t complete the challenge, they united as a team, gave it their best, and had a lot of fun doing it.  Next up was their first robot match, with Bobby as robot handler and Marcus as his pit assistant.  The pair managed to give the team their highest table score of the day.  After the first match, the team was ready to give their project presentation.  As always, they gave an enthusiastic performance and the judges loved that it was clear that the team works really well together and that they put in a lot of effort into their research.  The judges gave excellent feedback that they can apply to further their research project.  Match #2 was next with Aidan and Alex handling the robot.  Aidan felt that one of his touch penalties wasn’t warranted and he had the courage to approach the head judge for a reversal decision.  In the end, it didn’t affect the team’s overall score but it took a lot for Aidan to make that challenge.  Match #3, led by Trent and Fiona, was a bit difficult.  The sensor on their robot fell off after the first mission and they worked as hard as they could to get it back on and functional.  Grace under pressure!  The team went for Technical judging of their robot design and programming after the matches were complete.  They did a fantastic job as a team explaining the robot design process throughout the season, their many different prototypes, and how they got to the robot they competed with that day.

After lunch, the waiting began while the judges deliberated who would be awarded advancement tickets and awards.  Team CRyptonite 624 and the emcee did a great job at keeping the teams engaged.  It was especially fun when they called the coaches up for what they thought was acknowledgement, and it turned out to be a coaches dance-off!  Coach Damian got his groove on doing the bull rider and even took a spin on the floor.  The chicken dance, the macarena, and more made Coach Damian a sweaty mess but he had a blast!  Even the RoboRangers were caught dancing!

It was a fun event and a lot of teams were recognized for their awesome efforts.  The RoboRangers didn’t have a strong robot game and I wasn’t sure if they would be up for any awards.  All awards were given except for the 1st Place Champion’s Award.  The emcee read the winner…team #5374…the ROBORANGERS!!!  The team graciously accepted their award and their advancement ticket to the Lonestar Championship to be held January 7th!!!  There were tears by the team members, proud coaches, and parents.  Their accomplishment as a team is outstanding!

Here are some highlights of their day.

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Here is a funny video of Coach Damian and the RoboRangers dancing!

FLL Qualifier – December 3, 2011 from Susan Lynch on Vimeo