Ground Rules and Off-Season Plans

tshirt-imaginationfrontSix of our GambierGigaFlop teammates just finish up their Destination Imagination season at Saturday’s Regional Tournament in Reynoldsburg, OH.  This year I coached 2 elementary teams in the Improvisation Challenge both named the Imagination Corporation.  The Varsity team narrowly missed returning to the State Championship by 2 points out of 380.7 (~0.5%) while our rookie Junior Varsity team finished with a respectable 6th place finish in a field of 14.

Now that both FIRST LEGO League and Destination Imagination seasons are complete we’ll take a little breather and plan to start our off-season training after spring break.  Jean-Pierre is working with his father now to build a remote dev site in Costa Rica so we can collaborate via Skype/Facetime when we start.  I will try to coordinate the best times for our team members and their parents.

Until our first meeting after April 5th I would ask that all team members start thinking about this fall’s FLL Theme:  Trash Trek.  Basically, everyone should start brainstorming about products and/or services that they think could help address the problems raised in this teaser video released by FLL.  Although we don’t know the exact details, the video give us clear hints that it will deal with the generation, disposal and recycling of various types of wastes created by humans.

 


tuningIn the meantime, I’d like to offer some adjustments based upon our experiences in the first season and solicit recommendations on how best to structure our time so it works for all our families.  Here are the basic recommendations I have for our 2nd season.  Please feel free to email me any additional suggestions.

The basic idea is to front-load our work in the off-season now through late August when the new FLL challenge released.  During this time, we’ll develop a generalized, robust and modular code base that will serve as the navigation and mission framework for our fall challenge.

In the early summer, I’ll try to hold a few very restricted programming camps to give the kids the awareness and familiarity with various technical tools they can use to envision a patentable solution to this years Project.  My current ideas for subject include app development, game development and perhaps a few other topics.  According to FLL rules, the kids don’t have to be able to completely program or execute on the a Technical Project idea, but they should be the primary source of ideas and creativity.
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Once the school year begins and the new FLL challenge is released in late August, I’d like to stick to these rules as best we can.  If we can stick to them, it will allow us to have minimal meeting times during the busy school year as we can be super efficient during our meeting times.

– One meeting per week for 2 hours (perhaps more pre-tournament)

– No or minimal meeting times outside our standard team meeting times

– Fixed time/place as our schedules allow to minimize conflict with other scheduled activities

– Potential outside meeting-time research work, especially for the Research Project

– Strictly enforce rule of only kids build and program robot

– Teams divided up 2-3 kids per robot so everyone gets hands-on learning

– Division of labor so teams can work in parallel on independent programming/build tasks

The downside is that I’ll have to create lesson plans to ensure that we methodically, systematically and exhaustively cover all the material we need so make the most use of our limited meeting time in the fall.  This is imperative, because the fun can quickly drain out of the FLL experience when we’re constantly under pressure and running to catch up to yesterday.

I’ll be in contact via email to coordinate a time we can start and meet.  If you have any more suggestions, please email me with them.

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