It was an ordinary day at one of our meetings when our coach revealed the big news of us attending both League events on the weekend. We were originally supposed to go on Sunday, Jan 26th, but some of the teams had to cancel at the last second, opening some spaces on Saturday, Jan 25th. So as soon as the news was revealed, our coach immediately signed us up. She thought it was going to be a good practice for Victoria, and the team agreed.
On Saturday, also known as League 2, our team was met with a couple of surprises. As soon as the teams arrived they were all supposed to get ready for robot inspection, but we couldn't. You see, our robot’s on/off switch was found to be burnt out and so when we proceeded to link our phones together, it wouldn't work. Fortunately, one of the Meadow Ridge teams nearby came to the rescue and let us borrow a spare. With that problem out of the way, another came up. With our first round coming up, our robot’s phone systems would not sync together. We tried multiple times restarting the robot and trying again. We were so lost that in the end we had to go to the Field Inspector, Mike Silverades. After a lot of internet searches, restarting robots and youtube videos, we got them to sync just in time for our first match.
League 2 rounds weren’t that interesting and went by pretty quick. Our team ended with 5th place after all the teams finished their 5 rounds. League 3 on the other hand was a different story. As usual we arrived and got ready for inspection. Everything went well until our first round. We were teamed with a pretty decent team so our confidence grew a bit. We started off with our autonomous that we programmed just the day before and watched it work almost perfectly. After the 2 minutes of driver control. The points were tallied up. The board read 42-42 when the team saw it. We had tied our first game. Everybody in the gymnasium gasped in shock and surprise. Ties were a very rare occurrence because of the fact of there being multiple ways to score points. Round 2 went by as quickly and the 3rd one was near, but this time it was different. This time we were teamed with a team of two that built their robot the day before and had no knowledge of FTC. To make the situation more tense, we were going up against the two best teams in the competition, but we still managed to pull off 42-73. As our field crew and programming improved every game, our team pulled off amazing feats in the 5 rounds. In the end, we came in a respectable 6th place out of 10 teams as a first year rookie team.
It was also great to meet other teams in our spare time after or before the rounds. During the League 2 event, one of our mentors from Victoria, team FixIt came by to watch. It was great to catch up,talk about our robots and even talk about our strategies for the games. Another nice relationship we shared was with team MIT. For our last round we were teamed up in alliance with MIT and some disagreements came up with the penalty system. You see, the opposite team robots are not allowed to enter or block these taped zones on the map. When the timer reached 1:20, we decided to go to the taped zone, but the opposite robots obstructed our zones. We thought that would be a penalty and just went on with it, but when the final scores came up, the penalty score from the opposing alliance showed 0. Our alliance was quite puzzled, the referees saw it happening and didn’t do a single thing. With these in our minds, we both our team and MIT spoke to the referees and asked politely why the opposing team didn’t get penalized. We later found out that in order to be penalized for blocking, the opposing team must be doing it for at least 5 seconds. After finding out this information we walked back to our tables and accepted the outcome.
We are now currently getting ready for the final competition in Victoria on February 22. We still got a lot of work to do, this includes improving our autonomous, practice more for robot control, fulfill a few promised demos and keep raising money through fundraising. We have been pretty good at keeping up with our Engineering Notebook, and have good material for our posters. Stay tuned for another update soon.
On January 14 2020, Team Forces Unknown went to A&R Metal Industries to introduce the staff to FIRST, and to learn more about their company as well. When we entered the main lobby, we were immediately greeted by one of the staff members, the quality manager named Carlos, who happens to be Coach Ana’s neighbour.
Carlos told us what A&R Metal Industries was for and what the jobs in the company entailed. A&R Metal Industries manufactures metal vehicle parts to sell to car companies. They have to make every part without imperfections, otherwise they will be scrapped. He spoke about the importance of treating all with respect, and not pulling rank or treating others with disrespect. He said it was important for his company to consider the ideas of all, and to not ignore other people’s points of view or contributions. Then, Carlos began to show us around the facility, to all of the machines and their functions. There were welding mechanisms, massive machines that poked holes in the metal, machines to bend the metal, etc.
After the tour ended, we said our goodbyes, and Carlos invited us to come back to the facility to learn more about it anytime. In turn, we told him about FIRST and FTC, our emphasis on Core Values, and how our team works. At our next visit, we plan to show him our robot. We talked about our need for mentors, volunteers at events, and sponsors. We left him with a few brochures about our team and FIRST, and he invited us to go back to visit again another time.
A week later, we visited another company, which specializes in Lithium. We're preparing to a second visit to that company as well.
Participating at our first FTC League Event was a big experience. At the beginning it seemed that there was so much to go over, so much to learn. Our aim for this term is to learn as much as we can!
On October 25th, 2019, we went to the Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre Society. When we entered the main lobby we headed down the stairs and into what seemed like the catacombs of the building. After we finished unpacking and setting up, we were ready for the kids to come in.
For the workshop, we prepared two different activities, one for kids grade 1-3 and the other, grades 4 and up. For the younger kids, we prepared Lego WeDo sets, and for the older kids, we had Lego Mindstorm EV3 kits. Once the kids came in, Coach Ana introduced our team to them, and after getting to know each other, we moved into the activities. Lauryn was in charge of reception and photography for the event, David and Masiha worked with the younger kids, helping them with the instructions, and Matthew, Sarah, Lulu, Kyoungjoo, and Kieran worked with the older kids.
The activity for the older kids was more complex. they got to work with the Mindstorm kits. We pre-built the robot for them to work with, we introduced them to the programming software. We also taught them about how the motors work and how the robot could take different turns depending on the way that the robot was programmed. They were easy to teach and they learned a lot. We were impressed by their intuition, and their approach towards the completion of the activities we gave them. After we finished with the robots we gathered all the kids to conclude the session.
The kids had a lot of fun with the robots and we enjoyed working with them. After the kids left, we reviewed the successes of the class, and the ways in which we could improve our teaching abilities. Coach Ana also asked each of us what we enjoyed about the class, and how we could make the next CanCode event better.
Today a FIRST Season Launch took place at the MacMillan Space Center in Vancouver, and was opened to the public in order to raise awareness about FIRST programs. There were teachers, parents, returning teams, students, volunteers and other FIRST fanatics. There were booths and stations for all four FIRST programs and their new seasons: Boomtown Build for First Lego League Junior, City Shaper for First Lego League, Skystone for First Tech Challenge, and Infinite Recharge for First Robotics Competition.
There was a station for each of the four FIRST leagues. Kyoungjoo, Masiha, and I managed the station for FLL, where we taught children over grade four the basics of programming for EV3 using LabView. We showed them how to make their robot move forward, turn at right angles, and sense distance.
The FLL Jr station was managed by volunteers of the FIRST community. The FTC station was managed by Lulu, another member of the team, where she showcased our robot to the people walking by. Lastly, the FRC team 7796 - Breaker Robotics from Burnett Secondary in Richmond also volunteered their time in the FRC station, showcasing their own robot to everyone at the event.
Later on, during the FIRST Launch presentation, our team was asked to share about our experience at the World Championship in Houston, Texas, last April. I told the public how fun it was to meet people from other countries and make new friends there. It was inspiring to see what the other teams had come up with for their projects and robots.
Having returned from the FIRST Championship games in Houston less than two months ago, the team is ready to 'graduate' from the amazing FIRST LEGO League and move into the exciting FIRST Tech Challenge league!
Our team, with the addition of previous mentor Matthew Wong (Gr. 11), attended the FTC Jump Start Scrimmage held at Kwantlen Park Secondary on June 1, 2019. We had already ordered a tetrix robot kit, but since it had arrived only the day before, they attended the event with their brand new kit still unopened.
At the event, we met other new teams that also needed help getting started, and there were 2 amazing local teams were there to meet the demand of the wide-eyed rookie teams. The seasoned teams were incredibly helpful in helping rookies figure out how to connect remotes and quickly build a chassis for a simple rover. By the end of the day Forces Unknown had a 'working' robot and were able to play a quick game with some of the other teams using materials from the 2018-19 Season.
We are thankful to all who made the event possible. Also, we are grateful to the Provincial Government for the FIRST Tech Challenge British Columbia New Team Grant with which we were able to register the team and purchase a starter robot kit. As we all wait for the launch of the new season, we are very excited to continue participating FIRST programs and look forward to what FTC has to offer!