Friday, August 28, 2009

FIRST LEGO League in Tasmania

More news from Chris Bracken...
FIRST LEGO League (FLL) is starting to loom large on the horizon. The State tournament will be held at MacKillop Catholic College in Hobart on Thursday the 5th November (all day). Due to the number of teams expected to be involved, schools are limited to entering a maximum of 2 teams. FLL combines Robotics and project work in a team environment - This year’s topic is Smart Moves - Transport. It fits very well into the curriculum. An ideal scenario is to run FLL in your science lessons and pick the best team(s) to go to the state tournament or run the Robotics component as a lunch or after school activity and complete the project in class.

For more info go to:
  • - This is the Australian FLL site with info about registration, email lists and tournament details
  • - The US FLL site with info plus video showing you what FLL is all about.
  • - The most useful resource and tip site for FLL on the web (inc. worksheets, scoring sheets and other info)
To register you will need to ring either Anita (Moore Ed) 1800-684068 or Johanna (MTA) 1800-251497. The approximate cost is $150 for the Mat and kit which you can use with a whole class and $100 registration per team competing at the state finals.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Intro to Robotics Course

From Chris Bracken, Proactive PD...
Intro to Robotics Course
9th October 2009 11.00am – 5.00pm
Hobart Adult Education Centre
32-36 Church St, North Hobart

This course is an ideal introduction to LEGO® Robotics and how it can be used in the classroom. Using the LEGO Mindstorms NXT® and accompanying software, participants will be able to tackle a series of challenges that can be used in the classroom.

The course is conducted by Chris Bracken – convener of RoboCup Junior and FIRST LEGO League in Tasmania and winner of the 2009 LEGO Teachers Award for Australia and NZ.

Features of the day will include:
  • The chance to familiarise yourself with programming and some building of LEGO NXT Robotics kits and the latest NXTG software.
  • Access to a variety of hands-on, multi level challenges that you can use in the classroom to extend and assess students.
  • Obtain valuable resources and links to set up, or further enhance, a Robotics program within your school.
  • The latest information on RoboCup Junior and FIRST LEGO
  • League.
  • Ongoing support in helping establish (or build on) a robotics course or club at your school.
Cost for the day is $145 per person which includes the full day workshop (11am-5pm) with expert tuition, lunch and afternoon tea, and ongoing support after the day.

To obtain a registration form, or if you have any queries, please send an email to (Coordinator – Chris Bracken)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

MoonBots: A Google Lunar X PRIZE LEGO MINDSTORMS Challenge

The X PRIZE Foundation, Google Inc., LEGO Systems, National Instruments, and Wired’s GeekDad recently announced "MoonBots: A Google Lunar X PRIZE LEGO® MINDSTORMS® Challenge".
"The new contest will challenge small teams comprised of children and adults to design, program, and construct robots that perform simulated lunar missions similar to those required to win the $30 million Google Lunar X PRIZE, a private race to the Moon designed to enable commercial exploration of space while engaging the global public.

"Once registration for the contest opens, teams will be asked to submit designs illustrating how they will build, program and operate their robots using LEGO MINDSTORMS robotic kits. There will be no charge to enter the contest and registration will be open to teams across the globe. "
Read more about the challenge, and sign up to their mailing list at:

Friday, August 7, 2009

"The Hippy Hippies" at RCJT 2009

Here is a report from "The Hippy Hippies" (Montagu Bay Primary School) about their experiences at RoboCup Junior Tasmania 2009. I think this might be of interest to SmartBots mentors and teams who are thinking about participating in RoboCup Junior next year.
On Saturday our team (and our mentor!) went to the University to compete in Robocup Junior (a robotics competition). When we got to the Uni we were early and had to sit outside in the freezing cold! When we finally were allowed in we had to register. We were luckily one of the first groups in so we didn’t have to wait long. When we got set up we tested our robots on the test floor. We found our robots crashed and went out of the 3x3 metre boundary. Then we figured we needed to slow it down. So we did… and it WORKED! Time passed and soon enough it was time to go down to the lecture theatre and find out the rules and info we might need to know for the day. When that was over the competitions started… About 5 minutes afterwards it was time for our interview. We did quite well in our interview.

After that it wasn’t long before we had to do our performance! Fortunately our robots behaved themselves and didn’t crash or go out of the boundary! Afterwards we all celebrated and went down to the cafĂ© and got a drink. Meanwhile two of our group went up to check the scores while we all stayed and they came back and broke the news that we were in 2nd place!! Then we celebrated a bit more with a big WOO HOO and went back up to see the rest of the dances. Soon enough we had to do our 2nd dance in the final. That dance didn’t go too well… Our robots went out twice at the end but that was ok!

After a long day and all the dances were finished it was the end. Finally they announced that WE CAME 2ND in Junior Dance Performance!!!!!!!!!!!!! We were all so thrilled! We went up to collect our trophy and get our pictures taken! When we went back to our seats they announced that our mentor’s son and his team mate had won the soccer tournaments! It was an AWESOME! Day!

And lastly we would all like to thank our mentor for all the time and effort she put into helping us make this great achievement.

By The Hippy Hippies

Thanks the Hippies and their team mentor for letting me publish this here.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

RoboCup Junior Tasmania 2009

RoboCup Junior Tasmania continues to get both bigger *and* better each year! The ninth statewide robotics competition for school students was held at the University of Tasmanaia, Hobart on Friday 31 July and Saturday 1 August.

It was great to see so many former SmartBots participants in the competition. There were also plenty of schools that started with SmartBots but have since moved on to develop their own robotics programs. I'm not sure how any schools were represented altogether, but I estimate the more than a third of participating schools had been involved with SmartBots at some stage over the last three years.

After being directly involved with the organisation of this event for seven years, it was a nice change to be able to come along and help a bit, but still have plenty of time to watch lots of the action.

One of the big improvements this year was the division of the Dance callenge into Dance and Dance Theatre. This is a very welcome addition, and helps make it much easier for newcomers to compete in Dance. This year’s dance entries seemed to be at a much more consistent and higher standard than in past years, so I think something is working.

I particularly enjoyed Andy Muirhead's and Chris Letchford’s closing comments. Andy is a fantastic speaker and created a great sense of being part of something amazing. I loved his comment about never having been so excited about seeing a can lifted onto a box. Chris Letchford from the School of Engineering had a tough act to follow but, as always, he made a great case for studying engineering. He observed that it's been 400 years since Galileo improved and used the telescope, and 40 years since man first walked on the moon. What's next?

I think I’m finally realising what a good idea Senior Rescue is, and wondering if it might be possible to extend Senior Rescue up to the end of college? I think it should still be restricted to participants who are competing for the first time, but it would certainly make it easier for a number of my college students to just get started.

Congratulations to all the participants and their mentors, and big thanks to the organising committee for running such a great event.

I'm looking forward to 2011!