FIRST LEGO League

I have been involved with FIRST LEGO league for over ten years. Lately it has been as a judge at the local and state level. Last weekend and this weekend were the local tournaments that qualify teams to move to the state tournament. It was a long day of interacting with teams. As a technical judge, I grill the teams on programming, mechanical, and strategy for the robot they built to solve the year’s missions.

It was great fun to see the teams this year. Unfortunately I am pretty sure that my fear regarding programming has become real. A few years ago, LEGO stopped providing a software language that allowed a team to get deeply involved in programming. The NXT-G language they came out with hid many details and dumbedĀ  down the interface. A simple icon now does what 20 used to do. As a result, the kids have little incentive to learn advanced skills. The programs I saw today were pathetic compared to what was being produced by teams 5 years ago. It was a sad day.

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2 Responses to FIRST LEGO League

  1. Johnwiz says:

    I have arrived at your blog via a convoluted path- but I’ll cut to the chase. I am developing a musical toy and I need a sound unit that can produce 9 notes (one octave in the key of G). The notes are triggered by closing 9 individual circuits. The tones would be output to a small speaker. The unit needs to fit into a 2.5″ x 1.25″ x 0.5″ space. Based on your post at Sparkfun, you seem to be have some background in both electronics and music. If you are able to assist or provide a referral, I would greatly appreciate any input. Note that I am a mechanical engineer, so chasing electrons is not my thing. I did find this article that seemed relevant. http://www.arduino.cc/en/Tutorial/PlayMelody
    The Lego League sounds very fun. Enjoy your Holidays! John

  2. Skye Sweeney says:

    We all can’t be perfect, some us have to be mechanicals! (Actually my degrees are in ME and AE).

    Your music solution would depend on the fidelity of the music. Do you need a piano, oboe, sax, tuba, or would a pure tone note be adequate?

    If a pure tone is adequate, you can likely make due with a simple micro controller like the PIC, MSP430, or a dozen other small devices. If you need a real sounding instrument, then you have two choices. A device that records and plays back a tone, or a synthesizer.

    Your problem space is pretty large. You also need to define battery requirements such as type, number, and duration. You also need to know the fidelity as mentioned above and your unit price cost.

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