Friday, January 22, 2010

Well Done, Supernova

Supernova had a fantastic showing in Arlington Heights last weekend. What we learn is worth much more than what we win, but this season the team was able to both grow as a team and also earn the following awards.
1st Place Robot Design Award
2nd Place Robot Performance Award
3rd Place Ambassador Award

They were judged Friday evening for project, teamwork, technical and for the ambassador's award. On Saturday, after their 2nd robot match, the team decided they should turn down the power on the arm when retrieving a grey loop - as it was throwing it instead of capturing it. That's when we learned that the laptop hard drive had crashed!

We hadn't yet learned that we would soon receive call-backs in both project and technical. This is a very good thing, but we needed a computer for project. Thanks to iLego for their generous offer of a laptop, but luckily Mrs. Naughton had a backup computer in her car.

Paul frantically started copying our robot programs and project materials from a jump drive and got the backup computer configured just in time to grab a quick lunch, immediately followed by the tech follow up, an impromptu chat with Scott Evans! and then the project call-back (for which he was using the newly configured laptop for the presentation - yikes!) ... and then his table run! I single out Paul because he held it together through a really daunting series of high-pressure events over the coarse of a couple of hours - although the chat with Scott was an eye-in-the-storm before the project call-back and 3rd table run.

Mr. Evans was the epitome of gracious professionalism, complementing the boys on their accomplishments and discussing their robots.

In this shot, they're discussing the team's first robot design of the season - a very cool pneumatically actuated 4x4 that was abandoned in favor of our low-profile "dually" robot. He commented that older teams like ours are often too emotionally attached to a design to make significant changes, sometimes unable to recognize basic flaws that limit ultimate performance. He complimented them on having the wisdom to see that this robot was not going to meet the requirements and that they could come up with a better design. I'm paraphrasing, but this is the gist of his observation.

He asked what they were planning for next season and the team mentioned that their coaches were suggesting a move to robo-lab. He encouraged this in that robo-lab has a higher ceiling of limitations than NXT-G and, more importantly, is more similar to what they would be likely to encounter out in the real world of programming.

There's more to report, but it's getting late. I'll close by saying we're extremely proud of the team's accomplishments this season. Yes, they've been recognized at tournament, but they've also learned a lot, grown as a team and have been, and continue to be, tireless ambassadors for FLL. They are currently preparing for 2 presentations to our local community, which I'll report on when the time comes.


No comments: