Hi, my name in Elijah, I am in the 4th grade at the Packer Collegiate Institute in Brooklyn New York.
We have a FIRST LEGO League team called the Packer Climate Institute (but we change the name every year). I am also a member of the JMCP (Junior MINDSTORMS Community Partners) where I get to test the new version of LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT before it comes out. Here is my report on the FIRST LEGO League World Festival in Atlanta, Georgia.
On April 16th, I went to the FIRST (FIRST Lego League, First Robotics Competition, and First Tech Challenge) World Festival where 82 teams from dozens of countries all around the world competed. I had a lot of fun and I’m sure everyone else did too.
One of the cool things was the MINDSTORMS NXT 2.0 booth. That’s where LEGO displayed the new version of MINDSTORMS NXT. The robots in the new set are an alligator, a humanoid, and a ball shooter. Other neat robots at the booth were a pinball machine (my favorite by the way) designed by the same guy who made NXTprograms.com [Dave Parker, ed.], and a tic-tac-toe player.
Here’s how some of the robots worked. The pinball machine had two touch sensors for the flippers and served balls using the ball shooter method where the ball shooter pulls the cannon back and an axle shoots the zamor sphere out. A zamor sphere is smaller than the old version of the NXT ball, but weighs the same. After the zamor sphere is released the cannon moves forward and the next zamor sphere rolls in the firing position.
The alligator acts just like one and only attacks if he has the nerve (which most alligators do). The humanoid senses color and tells you what color it is sensing. It also walks and feels using touch sensors. This is an improvement over the old Alpha-Rex because I had difficulty making it walk forward then turn around. Alpha-Rex 2.0 did this without a problem. The tic-tac-toe player senses color and knows if you cheat!
Also, there weren’t just new version NXTs, but the LEGO MINDSTORMS team also made wireless RC cars, musical instruments, and a giant wireless RC tank.
The wireless RC car was the Batmobile and it was controlled by a joy-stick.
At the end of the first day of the festival, there was a multi-cultural show of skits, songs or dances all performed by the robotics teams who were competing. My favorite was when the team from Spain pretended to play the robot game with one kid as the robot, two as the robot users and a fourth as referee.
As a LEGO MINDSTORMS ambassador, I was not expecting to compete, but because the team from Columbia could not make it, our team got to fill in to even things out. Actually competing was cool. You could talk with opposing teams while waiting your turn at the table. Before the round began, you would shake hands with your opponent. Plus, it took place in the Georgia dome, which is a football stadium. So the first thing you think when you enter is this place is huge!
I also got to meet Scott Evans. Scott Evans works for FIRST and designs the robot game board every year. So to me meeting him was a big deal. My team showed him our “Wizard Of Oz theory” mini clip. A few months ago at practice, we noticed that a majority of things on the board reminded us of the movie The Wizard of Oz, so we put together a clip about it, and showed it to him. He really liked it. Then after that, I got his autograph on my team shirt.
That’s pretty much what happened in Atlanta this year. I had lots of fun, and I hope to go there again. I would like to go as a competitor with my team and we are going to try really hard to make it next year.
But it would be amazing to go as a LEGO ambassador and work at the booth again.