We ran through three practice rounds, presented at our Project, Robot Design and Core Values presentations, and checked out the cool FIRST Tech Challenge displays.
Amazing first day at FIRST Championship Houston, setting up our pit area and playing with lots of white LEGO!!
The Forces of the Galaxy spent the day travelling to Houston via Dallas. Fun ride on the Skylink!
Winning 2nd Place at FLL Provincial Championship and preparing for FIRST World Championship in Houston, TX
Kyoungjoo (Gr 7 at General Gordon Elementary)
Before updating our team’s story, I would like to thank the UEL community for the support they have given our team last year. Without their encouragement and cheering, we would have never made it to the First Lego League (FLL) Estonia International Open, Jun 06 to 09, 2018. Estonia was pretty cool; it had a medieval theme and was a beautiful country. Of course, since it was our first time going to a foreign country and competing against teams from around the world, the competition didn’t go as well as in BC. We earned 180 points, the highest score the team has ever achieved at competitions, yet ranked 60th in the robot game out of 98 teams. We also presented before panel of judges for Robot Design, Project and the Core Values.
This FLL season 2018-19 has been great. We changed our name to the Forces of the Galaxy because of the space theme "Into Orbit". At the beginning of the season, I was not officially in the team due to the other commitments that I had to do for my school program. A cultural exchange trip to Quebec was supposed to leave before and to return after the BC Championship competition on February 02, 2019, so I decided to support and help my team mates from the sidelines instead. For the Endorsed Regional Lower Mainland FLL Tournament at North Surrey Secondary School on December 01, 2018, I just participated as a spectator. I saw the team do really well in the Robot Game, Core Values and Project presentations. In the end, they won the Project Award. After a few weeks, I learned that the school exchange program was delayed by one week, allowing me to be available for the team during the Provincial Competition. I was then invited to rejoin the team, and I gladly accepted. Since I worked with the team multiple times, I fit in pretty well.
Forces of the Galaxy at FLL Provincial Championship in Victoria:
This was my third year at the BC provincial competition in Victoria. We started off with 97 points in the Robot Game at the first round, 99 points at the second round and 107 points at the final round. Honestly, the robot game was quite bland. Each round, we went to our designated table and set up our robot, waited for the timer to start and ran the program as soon as the timer started to count down. We watched our robot to go on its first run and fail. But, we didn't give up; we took a penalty and grabbed our robot to set it up for our second run. We watched this happen twice. On our third try, we were able to get more points than our first two rounds. Our coach had once told us that everything may fail on competition day due to many different reasons. We didn’t believe it at first, but by the end of the day we were having second thoughts... However, when we went in for the Core Values and the Project presentations, stuff started to get interesting. We had made a skit for our project that we wanted to show to the judges. It was my first time ever in 3 years, so I was pretty excited. The project went smoothly, the judges were very interested in our ideas and concepts on harnessing solar energy for space travel beyond “the edge of sunlight”. The Core Values presentation was the peak of the whole competition. At first, we did what they asked us to do like a little teamwork activity, and we showed them our poster. While we were just chilling at our booth, someone came up and told us that we were recalled for our Core Values. A recall is when two or three teams get the same points and the judges cannot decide who gets which place. It’s like a tiebreaker. When the time came, we entered the room and were horrified. The whole room was just filled with 14 judges, as opposed to the usual panel of 2 or 3. We were paralyzed for a split second, not moving. The judges started our recall; they led with some questions for us to answer such as "if you were to give a new team some advice, what would it be?". After that, our evening was pretty chill and quiet. The awards ceremony came, and we watched the other teams receive top tier awards on each category. Then the championship awards were called out, starting with 3rd place. Nothing for us yet. When the second place of the Championship was about to be announced, we were called up. We were all pretty happy, I have to say...
Forces of the Galaxy beyond the Provincials:
Two weeks later, we received an email confirming our choice to take part in Turkey or California International Open competitions, as 2nd Champion Award winners. Our parents voted on it, and California was chosen. However, soon after planning the preparation of the California trip, we received an email stating that our team would not be able to join because of a mistake on the process of registration of team. Due to unfinished and ongoing construction at the competition venue, they had to cut short the numbers of contestants. We were heartbroken not being able to participate at the international competition this year, and just went on with our lives. Yet obviously, our adventure didn't end there.
Three weeks later, we got another email (I know, so many emails!) asking us to attend the FIRST World Championship in Houston, TX to represent BC at the competition. We were very pumped and excited, but of course, there was a catch. Our robot’s attachments had already been dismantled, so now we need to rebuild all our attachments and reprogram the robot for the robot game in less than 3 weeks! We are hard at work, needless to say.
6 of our team members, 2 coaches/mentors, and 1 parent will be gearing up for the world competition, representing British Columbia and Canada. We have to raise around $14,000 for our trip, so we will be taking donations and fundraising through bake sales, Pro-D day camp, and door-to-door fundraising, just as we did last year in preparation for the Internationals in Estonia. We also set up an online fundraising campaign. If you want to support us, please donate here. Another long journey to explore, another new world with our teammates just began. Your warm and heartfelt wishes plus your donations, however small, would be very much appreciated.
Team 33968 Forces of the Galaxy - Presents their FLL Project on Harnessing Solar Energy at the McMillan Space Centre
Lulu (Gr 9)
Soon after the North Surrey Regionals Competition, our team presented our project to the public at the McMillan Space Centre. Sharing our ideas with the public was not only part of the criteria of the project, but also a good way to make sure things made sense to people who were not scientists, astronomers, or engineers.
The guidelines for an FLL project are as follows: 1) find a problem within a specific area of study; 2) identify existing solutions to the problem and if they can be improved upon; 3) creating your own innovative solution or an improvement to an existing solution; 4) ask an expert if your solution is viable; 5) share your solution and problem with the general public.
FINDING a problem:
For our project, the problem we chose to solve was that most spacecrafts (including the ISS) are powered by solar panels, which is an efficient and cheap way to power the crafts, except for when traveling long distances. Any solar powered spacecrafts that attempt to go beyond Jupiter and Saturn (AKA past the “edge of sunshine”) would lose power because at that point the spacecraft is too far away from the sun. This makes any long distance travel to the far reaches of our solar system (when specifically using a large spacecraft, such as one to carry humans) very difficult.
There are no existing solutions to this problem at the moment, but some ideas have been in development at NASA. Two of these are:
PROPOSING an alternative:
The innovative solution we came up with, is to have a series of paired mirrors orbiting the earth so that they can reflect the sun’s light in a mostly concentrated beam towards any spacecraft in need. There would be multiple sets of mirrors orbiting the earth so that any spacecraft no matter on what side of the earth, can be reached by the beam. The mirrors would be controllable from N.A.S.A. via satellite or from the ISS so that they could be adjusted to stay in orbit.
We reached out to a former NASA astrobiologist, Carl Pilcher. From our conversation we understood that, since the mirrors for our idea should be comparable in size to the solar panels on the ISS to collect the same amount of energy, our idea was in fact feasible. He alerted us to a potential problem regarding the spacecraft’s heating and telecom systems, which would require more power than on the ISS due to the greater distance from Earth. If this problem is overcome, our idea is worth pursuing further.
SHARING with our community:
Our experience at the McMillan Space Centre was very beneficial, and by presenting we learned what things to modify or look for. As we spoke to the people that came up to our booth, we learned how to simplify and explain the project better, what things we should look deeper into, and some even suggested alternative uses for our solution that we never thought of, outside of the intended purpose.
At the Regional Tournament on Dec 2, 2018, we received the Project Award, which came as an exciting surprise. Although we did not know what to expect, it was very satisfying to know we had done a good job and our effort was recognized.
Update: Out of 98 teams we came 60th place in the Robot Game, a great comeback considering we got 0 in the first round with robot malfunctions. Great work everyone! We came ahead over 38 teams in the Robot Game! Check the scores for all the teams here. https://buff.ly/2JHFQtp
About our team:
We are FIRST LEGO League Team # 33968, a.k.a. Forces of the Galaxy from Vancouver and Richmond, British Columbia, Canada. We will be representing BC Canada at the FLL Championships in Houston, TX in April 2019 - https://www.firstchampionship.org/houston
This Isn't a Robot
Wondering what we mean when we say FIRST is #morethanrobots? Watch this video (courtesy of RadicalMedia)
Norma Rose Point Elementary, Vancouver
General Gordon Elementary, Vancouver
McKay Elementary, Richmond
David Lloyd George Elementary, Vancouver